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NATO apologizes for shooting deaths of 2 Afghan boys

By the CNN Staff
March 3, 2013 -- Updated 0415 GMT (1215 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NATO: "We take full responsibility for this tragedy"
  • The shooting took place February 28
  • Civilian deaths in Afghanistan dropped 12% in 2012

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- NATO apologized Saturday after it said its troops mistook two Afghan boys for insurgents and shot them dead late last month.

"I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed," said Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

"I am committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those we harmed, as well as for the community in which they lived. We take full responsibility for this tragedy."

The shooting took place February 28 in a district in southern Afghanistan's Uruzgan province.

Troops fired at the boys after mistaking them for insurgent forces, NATO said.

A joint Afghan-ISAF investigation team visited the district Saturday to meet with local leaders.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan dropped 12% in 2012 -- the first time that figure has fallen in six years, a U.N. report said last month.

The greatest number of casualties that still occur take place from militant attacks.

Still, deaths at the hands of coalition forces -- even accidental ones -- are a point of contention for Afghans, and ISAF has been working for years to tackle the problem.

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