When a NATO raid killed 10 children and teenagers at a remote mountain compound in Afghanistan last December, troops claimed to be targeting a “known insurgent group responsible for a series of violent attacks.” But after a lengthy investigation by the Times of London, NATO now admits that the boys killed—all of them between 12 and 18, eight of them members of the same family—were innocent civilians without connections to insurgent activity.
“Knowing what we know now, it would probably not have been a justifiable attack,” a NATO official said. News of the deadly mistake comes amid growing anger over civilian casualties in Afghanistan and after a warning from US commander Stanley McChrystal that civilian deaths are putting NATO forces at risk of "strategic defeat." But nobody appears ready to take blame for the botched raid: Western officials hint that Afghans pulled the triggers, while Afghan sources say US special forces were involved.
(Read more NATO stories.)