NATO-led forces kill two Afghan civilians

Two Afghans hired by a Singapore-based engineering firm were killed last week by “friendly fire” from NATO-led security forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the company said Monday.

A third Afghan employee of the Central Asia Development Group (CADG) was seriously injured in the incident on February 3, CADG spokesman Matthew Goldthwaite said in an email to AFP.

“On February 3, 2011, a CADG vehicle, carrying four of CADG’s Afghan national staff were caught in kinetic activity between ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces and insurgent forces on Highway 1 near Spin Masjid Bazaar, near Gereshk in Helmand Province,” he said.

“As a result of this exchange, two of the passengers were killed, one passenger was seriously wounded (and) the fourth passenger was unharmed,” added Goldthwaite.

“CADG was informed that ISAF have accepted responsibility for this incident… We believe it’s friendly fire.”

The wounded Afghan was being treated at the British-run Camp Bastion for a gunshot wound, he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has described Helmand as the “toughest part of the country by a very, very long way”.

A human rights watchdog said last week that 2010 was the deadliest year for ordinary Afghans since the US-led invasion of 2001, with more than 2,400 civilians killed.

Taliban and other insurgents were responsible for more than 60 percent of the dead, the report by the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) said, blaming the US-led force for 21 percent of the casualties.

The Taliban is battling 140,000 NATO-led international troops based in Afghanistan.