Five children hurt in UK air strike

Five Afghan children have been injured in a strike by a British Apache helicopter, the Ministry of Defence said.

They were caught up in an attack on an insurgent as they worked in a field in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand Province on Saturday.

The children were taken to Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand, for treatment. Their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

The Nato-led military coalition in Afghanistan, known as the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), has made reducing civilian casualties a priority.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "On July 23, UK forces used an Apache attack helicopter to conduct a strike operation against positively identified insurgents who were seen operating in Nahr-e Saraj (South).

"Regrettably, five local children working in a neighbouring field were injured during the strike. The five children were taken to Isaf medical facilities before being taken on to Camp Bastion where they received medical care.

"Any incident involving civilian casualties is a matter of deep regret and we take every possible measure to avoid such incidents.

"A shooting incident review is now under way and UK officials in Afghanistan are keeping the provincial governor abreast of the results of the investigation."

Isaf said in a statement: "We are aware of an incident in Nahr-e-Saraj where a known insurgent was targeted by a coalition helicopter.

"As a result of the engagement, five local children were regrettably injured. Subsequently, the injured were evacuated to an International Security Assistance Force medical facility and are currently being treated.

"Isaf is currently assessing this event, and more details will be released as they become available. Coalition forces take every allegation of civilian casualties seriously."