Afghan offical: U.S. strike killed 17 civilians
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(CNN) -- A U.S. air strike linked to last week's downing of a U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan has killed 17 civilians and an unknown number of terrorists, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Kunar provincial Gov. Asadullah Wafa told news agencies that women and children were among 17 civilians killed in the airstrike.
The U.S. military in Kabul said the number of civilians and "enemy terrorists" killed was unknown.
The air strike targeted a "known operating base for terrorist attacks," according to a statement from the Coalition Press Information Center on Monday.
A "medium-level terrorist leader" used the compound as a base, the statement said, offering no further details of the Friday attack.
"Certainly loss of innocent lives is something that anyone putting together an operation tries to avoid, so loss of innocent lives is something that our forces avoid," Lt. Cindy Moore, a spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told CNN.
Moore also said it was common for "enemy forces" to move their families into areas where they are conducting operations, thus putting innocent civilians at risk.
Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara announced the air strike on Saturday, saying it had taken place late Friday afternoon and had been hastily arranged to hit "a target we deemed we had to hit immediately" because commanders believed that the target might leave the compound soon.
The compound was sheltering insurgents connected to last week's downing of a military helicopter as it was taking reinforcements to a team of Navy SEALs participating in Operation Red Wing against insurgents in Kunar, military officials told CNN.
The downing of the MH-47 helicopter killed all 16 service members aboard -- eight SEALs and eight Army Special Ops soldiers.
Except for one SEAL who has been rescued, the original team of SEALs has not been heard from since calling for reinforcements last Tuesday, military officials said.
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