Petraeus apologises for air strike in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

The commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan made a rare apology yesterday for an air strike that killed nine civilians after Afghan law makers warned a spike in such raids was hampering efforts to end the war against the Taliban.

US army General David Petraeus ordered all military commanders and attack helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the rules for carrying out air raids after a spate of recent civilian casualty incidents in the east.

Members of parliament angrily denounced two recent Nato strikes in eastern Kunar province in which they said more than 73 civilians were killed, about half of them children, and called on Petraeus to explain.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also condemned what he called the "daily" killings of innocent Afghans in foreign air strikes.

Petraeus said the 150,000-strong international force took full responsibility for the deaths, adding disciplinary action would be taken if warranted.

"We are deeply sorry for this tragedy... These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologise to President Karzai," he said.