Probe reveals 30 civilians died in NATO fuel-truck bombing

Thirty civilians, along with 69 Taliban militants, died in a NATO bombing of a hijacked fuel truck in early September, an independent Afghan investigation concluded. NATO, who admitted the civilian deaths, has launched its own parallel probe.


AFP - Thirty Afghan civilians and 69 Taliban were killed in a NATO air strike on fuel trucks in the north of the country early this month, a government-appointed investigator told AFP Sunday.

"Thirty civilians were martyred and nine were wounded," said Mohamadullah Bataj, one of four investigators on a team appointed by President Hamid Karzai to investigate the incident in Kunduz province on September 4.

"Sixty-nine of the Taliban were killed -- armed and unarmed."

Bataj said that 49 armed and 20 unarmed Taliban were killed. He said 11 militants were wounded in the strike, which came as anger over civilian deaths simmered in war-torn Afghanistan.

The NATO-led coalition has acknowledged that civilians were killed or injured in the strike, but has yet to release details of its own parallel investigation.

The strike was reportedly ordered by a German commander after Taliban militants hijacked two fuel trucks on a NATO supply route from Tajikistan.

When one of the trucks stalled in a river, the Taliban called on villagers to syphon away the fuel and civilians were gathered round the vehicles when the the bombs stuck, witnesses have said.

There are about 100,000 NATO and US-led troops stationed in Afghanistan, helping the government fight a Taliban insurgency that is at its most deadly since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the hardline regime of the day.

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