Nato denies ‘friendly fire’ deaths

Published on english Al Jazeera.net online, by staff, August 21, 2008.

Nato has denied a newspaper report that allied planes killed 10 French soldiers during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan …

… France’s Le Monde newspaper on Wednesday quoted French soldiers who had survived the ambush earlier in the week near Kabul, saying they were hit in a “friendly fire” incident.

The soldiers told the newspaper they waited for four hours for backup after being ambushed.

When Nato aircraft finally arrived, they hit French troops after missing their target, the newspaper quoted the soldiers as saying.

Charges denied

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, on Wednesday said: “We have no reports of any casualties caused by close air support.”

Asked whether French soldiers had been killed or wounded by friendly fire, he said there were “no reports of that” …

… Opinion polls showed a large majority of French opposed the move, with many fearing that France would get bogged down in an unending war whose aims were unclear or unattainable.

About 70,000 international troops are fighting alongside Afghan security forces against Taliban fighters whose government was removed in a US-led invasion in 2001. (full text).

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