NATO’s force in Afghanistan admitted Monday that one of its helicopters had accidentally wounded five children in the southern province of Helmand.
“A known insurgent was targeted by a coalition helicopter. As a result of the engagement five local children were regrettably injured,” the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
The wounded were evacuated to an ISAF medical centre and were being treated, it said, adding that it was continuing to investigate the incident that occurred on Saturday in the Nahr-i-Saraj district.
Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is the deadliest province for coalition forces fighting the nearly decade-long insurgency.
Civilian casualties of NATO operations are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where nearly a decade of foreign military action has fuelled resentment against the Western-backed President Hamid Karzai and his NATO allies.
Violence is at a record-high in the war, with more than 1,400 Afghan civilians killed in the conflict this year, up 15 percent on the first half of 2010, according to a recently released United Nations report.
According to the UN, NATO and Afghan forces are responsible for 14 percent of civilian casualties with 80 percent due to the insurgents.