Air Strike in Afghanistan Kills Children

A U.S. air strike targeting al-Qaida militants in eastern Afghanistan has killed seven children. The operation was backed by Afghan troops; it came hours after a bombing in the Afghan capital killed more than 30 people.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And let's move next across Pakistan's border to Afghanistan. Fighting continues there, and an air strike has gone wrong.

A U.S.-led air strike was intended to kill suspected al-Qaida militants in the eastern part of the country. As Afghan troops moved in on the ground, the air attacks focused on a compound - a compound that also included a mosque and a religious school, or madrasa. The U.S.-led coalition claims it killed several militants. But a military spokesman, Major Chris Belcher, says the strike also killed seven children.

Major CHRIS BELCHER (U.S. Military Spokesman): You know, unfortunately, the children had been forced to stay inside, and we did not observe any children. Had we observed them, we would not have called this air strike.

INSKEEP: The spokesman concedes that killings like this hurt the battle for public opinion in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials have recently said that civilian deaths are their country's main concern. Today, we can also tell you more about Afghanistan's deadliest suicide bombing. It happened over the weekend and destroyed a bus full of police instructors. Thirty-five people were killed. Now Afghan authorities say they've made an arrest. Police say they caught a suspect who was filming the aftermath of the explosion. That allegation brings to mind a common tactic in Iraq, where insurgents record their attacks and put the video on the Internet.

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