UN probes Afghan deaths
The United Nations is investigating claims that up to 32 civilians were killed in a US airstrike in the volatile Afghan province of Kunduz last week, calling any loss of civilian life “unacceptable”. The strike early last Thursday triggered angry protests in Kunduz, with local officials saying at least 30 people had been killed, many of them children whose mutilated bodies were paraded through the streets by grieving relatives. Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces have been one of the most contentious issues in the 15-year campaign against the insurgents, prompting strong public and government criticism. US forces have conceded that the strike “very likely” resulted in civilian casualties and pledged a full investigation into the incident. A State Department spokesman called it a “terrible event”. The killings came just days before the US presidential election, in which Afghanistan has received scarcely a passing mention-even though the situation there will be an urgent matter for the new president.