U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrike Kills 7 - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrike Kills 7

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ U.S.-led coalition jets bombed a compound suspected of housing al-Qaida militants in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven boys and several insurgents, officials said Monday.

Clashes in the south killed a Dutch soldier, while dozens of suspected insurgents were left dead, officials said.

In the capital, police said they have detained a suspect in connection with the deadly bus bombing that killed at least 35 people, most of them police trainers.

In an operation backed by Afghan troops, the warplanes on Sunday targeted a compound that also contained a mosque and a madrassa, or Islamic school, in the Zarghun Shah district of Paktika province.

Paktika Gov. Akram Akhpelwak said there normally is strong coordination between the government and the coalition and NATO, but that he was not made aware of the missile strike on the madrassa beforehand, resulting in the death of seven boys, ages 10 to 16.

Local authorities are working with NATO and coalition troops ``to have better coordination and to not have these misunderstandings, but today we had a misunderstanding and the people will be unhappy,'' Akhpelwak told The Associated Press by telephone. ``We will go to the area and discuss the issue with the people and apologize to the people.''

Coalition troops had ``surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building,'' said Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman. He accused the militants of not letting the children leave the compound that was targeted.

``If we knew that there were children inside the building, there was no way that that airstrike would have occurred,'' said Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, another coalition spokesman.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it has sent a team with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to investigate.

In the south, a 44-year-old sergeant major became the second Dutch soldier killed in action in four days in Afghanistan and the eighth fatality among the 2,000-strong Dutch contingent in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan. The fighting against Taliban insurgents also wounded three soldiers, the chief of the Dutch defense forces announced.

A Norwegian soldier was also wounded Sunday when his patrol came under fire in northern Afghanistan, Norwegian officials said.

Afghan officials have said that civilian deaths are the main concern of Afghans, and President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly called for foreign troops to do more to prevent civilian casualties.

Police, meanwhile, detained a suspect in the Kabul bus bombing after he was caught filming the aftermath of the deadly suicide blast, said Ali Shah Paktiawal, Kabul police director of criminal investigation.

The suspect, whose name and nationality were not disclosed, had pictures of the slain Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah in his phone, as well as text messages from a foreign country, Paktiawal said.

Sunday's enormous blast, which raised the specter of an increase in Iraq-style bombings with heavy casualties, was at least the fourth attack against a bus carrying Afghan police or army soldiers in Kabul in the last year. The bomb sheared off the bus' metal sidings and roof, leaving a charred frame.

``Never in my life have I heard such a sound,'' said Ali Jawad, 48, who was selling phone cards nearby. ``A big fireball followed. I saw blood and a decapitated man thrown out of the bus.''

The explosion was the fifth suicide attack in Afghanistan in three days, part of a sharp spike in violence around the country.

Condemning the Kabul attack, Karzai said the ``enemies of Afghanistan'' were trying to stop the development of Afghan security forces, a key component in the U.S.-NATO strategy of handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan government one day, allowing Western forces to leave.

A self-described Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a Taliban suicide bomber named Mullah Asim Abdul Rahman caused the blast. Ahmadi called an Associated Press reporter from an undisclosed location. His claim could not be verified.

At least one person survived the 8:10 a.m. bus blast. Nasir Ahmad, 22, a janitor at the police training academy, was sitting in the back of the bus when the bomb exploded. Speaking from a hospital bed where he was recovering from wounds to his face and hands, he said: ``There were between 30 to 40 police instructors in the bus.''

It was the only full sentence he managed to utter before stopping from exhaustion.

Interior Minister Zarar Ahmad Muqbal said initial indications were that a suicide bomber boarded the bus as it stopped to pick up police instructors at an open-air bus station in central Kabul. More typical Taliban suicide bombings often kill far fewer people.

Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said it was too early to tell if the attack was a sign of more lethal bombings to come, or heavier involvement by al-Qaida. NATO commanders have long predicted a rise in suicide attacks this year.

Afghan government officials, police and army soldiers are commonly targeted by insurgents trying to bring down Karzai's U.S.-backed government, and buses carrying Afghan police and army soldiers are common targets.

In May, a remote-controlled bomb hit an Afghan army bus in Kabul, killing the driver and wounding 29 people. In October, a bomb on a bicycle exploded as a police bus went by in Kabul, wounding 11. Last July, a remote-controlled bomb blew up near an Afghan army bus in downtown Kabul, wounding 39 people.

Insurgency-related violence has killed more than 2,400 people in Afghanistan this year, mostly insurgents, according to an AP count based on figures from U.S., NATO, U.N. and Afghan officials.
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