[Update April 13, 2010] A senior U.S. military official tells CNN that Gen. Stanley McChrystal is “extremely upset” about this incident. The general is so upset, the official said, that he has "ordered" all troops under his command to "re-read" his tactical directive on dealing with civilians. So far, no new directives are planned.
Kabul, Afghanistan — NATO-led troops fired on a bus in southern Afghanistan on Monday morning, killing four civilians and wounding 18 others, officials said.
The wounded included women and children, said Zalmai Ayoubi, the spokesman for Kandahar province where the shooting occurred.
The bus was headed from Kandahar to Oruzgan province when troops with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) asked the bus driver to stop.
The bus driver did not recognize the troops because it was still dark, said Ayoubi. The troops then fired on the bus, he said.
Soldiers later took some of the wounded civilians to an ISAF clinic.
Interior ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary confirmed the shooting. ISAF officials also confirmed the incident and released a statement, saying troops tried to warn the approaching vehicle to stop by shooting up flares and then shot at the vehicle after it did not stop. The coalition troops then thought the approaching vehicle was a threat and fired at it, the statement said.
"ISAF deeply regrets the tragic loss of life in Zhari district this morning," the statement said.
Even though civilian casualties at the hands of NATO troops have fallen off in recent months, such incidents have strained relationship between Afghanistan and the Western nations that make up ISAF. On Monday, protesters on the outskirts of Kandahar burned tires in a demonstration against the deaths (photo above).
- Journalist Matiullah Mati contributed to this report