The Herald Bulletin

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April 4, 2013

UN condemns Afghan attack that killed at least 46

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials released harrowing new details on Thursday about an attack in a western province where assailants shot everyone in their path, sending terrified people jumping from windows trying to escape the assailants who killed at least 46 civilians and security forces.

Civilians have frequently been caught up in the fighting between militants and Afghan and U.S.-led combat forces, but the U.N. condemned Wednesday's attack, saying civilians were deliberately targeted at the courthouse and other government offices in Farah province. Two judges, six prosecutors, administration officers and cleaners working at the site were among the dead, the U.N. said.

Also Thursday, NATO reported that an American F-16 fighter jet had crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing the U.S. pilot. The U.S.-led military coalition did not release further details about Wednesday's crash.

"While the cause of the crash is under investigation, initial reporting indicates there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash," the coalition said in a statement.

Illustrating other dangers, an airstrike by U.S.-led forces mistakenly killed four policemen and two brothers as their car was being searched at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said Thursday.

The strike occurred in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, according to district chief Fazel Ahmad Toolwak. He said NATO troops were fighting Taliban militants about 10 kilometers (six miles) away, but those killed in the strike were not involved in that battle.

A NATO spokesman, U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack, said the international military coalition was looking into the report, adding it "takes all allegations of this type seriously."

According to a recent U.N. report, 2,754 Afghan civilians were killed last year — down 12 percent from 3,131 killed in 2011. But the number killed in the second half of last year rose, suggesting that Afghanistan is likely to face continued violence as the Taliban and other militants fight for control of the country as foreign forces continue their withdrawal.

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