Two boys out collecting firewood with their donkeys were killed by weapons fired from a NATO helicopter,Afghan and American military officials announced on Saturday.
The new American commander in Afghanistan,Gen. Joseph F Dunford Jr,promptly issued an apology and said the killings were an accident.
The victims,Toor Jan,11,and Andul Wodood,12,were brothers and had been walking behind their donkeys in the Shahed-e-Hasas district of Oruzgan Province when the helicopter fired on them,according to Afghan officials in the district.
General Dunford said coalition forces had opened fire on what they thought were insurgent forces,and killed the boys by accident. I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed, General Dunford said. We take full responsibility for this tragedy.
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There was some disagreement about the presence of Taliban in the area and about the details of the episode.
Abdullah Himat,a spokesman for the provincial government in Oruzgan,said while the shooting was a mistake,there had been Taliban presence in the area and insurgents had opened fire on the helicopter.