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Karzai fires commanders over civilian deaths

  • Story Highlights
  • Karzai fires two military commanders after U.S. airstrike kills 89 civilians
  • Firings include Gen. Jalandar Shah and Abdul Jabbar
  • Investigation into the reported civilian deaths was underway
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has fired two military commanders in the wake of a U.S. airstrike in western Afghanistan that killed 89 civilians, according to a statement from Karzai's office.

The firings include Gen. Jalandar Shah, the Afghan army's corps commander for western Afghanistan, and another commander, Abdul Jabbar.

The U.S.-led coalition has said it was "aware of allegations that the engagement in the Shindand District of Herat province Friday may have resulted in civilian casualties.

"All allegations of civilian casualties are taken very seriously," the statement said. "Coalition forces make every effort to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives."

An investigation into the reported civilian deaths was underway, according to coalition and Afghan officials.

In an earlier statement, Karzai condemned the reported civilian deaths -- many of them children -- in Friday's strike.

The airstrike was called in by Afghan and coalition troops as they embarked on a raid to arrest a Taliban commander in Shindand.

Insurgents fired on the soldiers with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and troops responded with their own small-arms fire and called in an airstrike, killing 30 insurgents -- including Mullah Sadiq, a known Taliban commander, coalition forces said.

In his statement, Karzai said he talked by telephone Saturday with a tribal elder in the village bombed Friday and "expressed his condolences to the people affected in the airstrike." The president has dispatched an investigative team, the statement said.

Karzai blamed U.S.-led coalition forces for failing to coordinate their attack with the Afghan army.

"All efforts of the Afghan government to avoid civilian casualties have not yielded any positive results, and our innocent countrymen are still killed in anti-terrorism operations," the president's statement said.

Another 14 Afghan civilians were killed Saturday in Taliban roadside attacks and 17 Taliban militants were killed in clashes with Afghan and NATO-led troops in southern Helmand province, officials said.

CNN's Atia Abawi and Journalist Farhad Peikar contributed to this report

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