KABUL, April 9: Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday called for an investigation into the deaths of 11 Afghan civilians killed by a US bomb and urged that measures be taken to avoid civilian deaths as US-led military action continues in Afghanistan.

“The safety of civilians must be made a priority and urgent measures taken to avoid the repetition of such tragedies,” Amnesty said in a statement received here.

US military spokesman Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Lefforge earlier told reporters seven women and four men were killed on Wednesday when a bomb hit their house on the outskirts of Shkin in Paktika province, eastern Afghanistan.

“US forces must take sufficient precautions to protect civilians in selecting military objectives and means of attack,” Amnesty said.

“Civilian casualties cannot be allowed — neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq — to become an acceptable feature of war,” the London-based rights watchdog said.

Coalition forces were pursuing a group of attackers who had left four Afghan militia troops wounded and had called in air support when a laser-guided bomb went astray, hitting the house.

In response to questions on how coalition forces responded to tipoffs, the US military spokesman had said they would not attack based on just one intelligence source.

“Coalition forces won’t arbitrarily go after a particular target based on one intelligence source,” he said.

“They generally perform multiple types of intelligence to assess that the targets they’re after are indeed valid targets. We would rather gather more solid evidence and intelligence and go after a solid target than go to after a target that’s based on circumstantial evidence.”

The seven women and four men were killed when their house was hit by a stray 450-kilogram bomb in a raid against a group of unknown attackers in the mountains of southeastern Afghanistan, a US military spokesman said.

Wednesday’s bombing error was the worst mistake by US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan since 48 people were killed in June last year when US forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party in central Uruzgan province.—AFP

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