On Friday, a United States air strike in Afghanistan’s eastern mountains killed 17 civilians including women and children. The deaths were a result of two bombings–the first, a bombing of a house in a remote village and the second a bombing of the same house once villagers moved towards the house to examine the rubble. In a statement to the press, the US Department of Defense attempted to “express regret” for the loss of civilian life, but instead blamed the casualties on the fact that “enemy forces” moved their families to places where they conduct “terrorist operations” and put “innocent civilians at risk.” The United States has admitted that some civilians were killed, but has said that the number is “unknown” and only provided information stating that terrorists and their families were killed. Afghanistan’s government has criticized the United States for the attack, issuing a statement stating that “there is no way the killing of civilians can be justified.”
While there is no official tally of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Marc Herod, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, has compiled an estimate based on press accounts that tallies reports of 3,486 Afghan civilians killed from October 7, 2001 to May of 2003.