22 Jun 2007

PR# 2007-458

Civilian casualties may have resulted from ISAF engagement with insurgents

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Last night, ISAF forces were attacked by insurgents 14 kilometers northeast of Gereshk in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan. ISAF responded with small arms fire and an airstrike.

A compound was assessed to have been occupied by up to 30 insurgent fighters, most of whom were killed in the engagement.  ISAF troops are now investigating reports that a small number of civilians may also have been in the compound.  At this time it has not been possible to determine if civilians have been killed or injured, or indeed if civilian casualties were a result of insurgent or ISAF action.

"We are concerned about reports that some civilians may have lost their lives during this attack," said Lt. Col. Mike Smith, spokesman for Regional Command South.  "However, it must be noted that it was the insurgents who initiated this attack, and in choosing to conduct such attacks in this location and at this time, the risk to civilians was probably deliberate.  It is this irresponsible action that may have led to casualties."

ISAF officials have said previously that they continue to work to coordinate operations with Afghan officials to minimize the risk to civilians from military operations.  ISAF forces remain in the area and will provide medical assistance as necessary.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/