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U.S., NATO apologize for Afghan civilian deaths

By the CNN Wire Staff
May 11, 2012 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An initial probe shows airstrikes killed and injured civilians, a coalition statement says
  • It says, "The coalition takes full responsibility for these tragic and regrettable incidents"
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be briefed on the investigation

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- NATO and the U.S. military apologized Friday to the families and loved ones of Afghans killed in coalition airstrikes this month in two villages.

"Unfortunately, the preliminary investigations into these events have determined that our actions have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries to Afghan civilians," said a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

"The coalition takes full responsibility for these tragic and regrettable incidents, and we will meet with the family members of those who died or were injured to express our sincere condolences," the statement said.

The deaths occurred May 4 in the village of PanKalay and May 6 in Nowbar, the coalition said.

Coalition commanders will brief Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the results of the initial investigations.

The coalition said that Karzai "will be assured of our commitment to take any and all appropriate actions to minimize the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future. If our investigation finds someone responsible, the appropriate action will be taken to hold them accountable."

Karzai expressed dismay Monday over the airstrikes, and his spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said they were "unacceptable to the Afghan government."

He said that Karzai had spoken with local officials and the families of the victims and then summoned Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker to the palace for an explanation.

Recently signed agreements between the United States and Afghanistan had been intended to stop such unilateral operations, Faizi said.

He added that Allen had promised to investigate the issue and report back to Karzai. "Gen. Allen said that his teams are investigating this incident and he regrets any loss."

"We take all human loss of life very seriously," said Gavin Sundwall, a U.S. Embassy spokesman.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh contributed to this report.

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