WASHINGTON - A rocket that killed 12 civilians during the NATO-led offensive in Afghanistan hit its intended target, but the troops who fired it did not know that civilians were inside the building, a senior military official said Monday.
The civilians were killed Sunday by a rocket fired during Operation Moshtarak, the biggest offensive that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has conducted since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The offensive aims to force the Taliban from Marjah, a regional center in southern Afghanistan.
ISAF issued a statement saying the 12 civilians were killed when a rocket hit about 600 meters from its intended target. A senior ISAF official, however, said the rocket was not off target at all. The official said troops hit the building they were aiming for but did not know that civilians were inside.
The official has direct knowledge of the incident, but he declined to be named because an investigation is under way. Coalition troops targeted the building after taking "constant fire from five locations" in its immediate vicinity, the official said.