KABUL, Afghanistan -- An angry new dispute over civilian casualties erupted Wednesday, with Afghan officials asserting that nine children gathering firewood on a mountainside were killed by an American bombardment in a troubled eastern province. A tenth child was reported wounded.
President Hamid Karzai, on an official visit to London, condemned the episode "in the strongest terms possible," calling it a "ruthless attack" and questioning whether Western war aims could be achieved if noncombatants continue to die.
Western military officials said in a statement that they were investigating Tuesday's incident, which began when an outpost in the Dara-i-Pech district of Kunar province was hit by rocket fire, presumably from insurgents, which injured a local contractor. The base's defenders responded with "indirect and aerial fire," the statement said. Indirect fire usually describes the use of field artillery.
Kunar province last month was the scene of another confrontation between the Karzai government and the NATO force over civilian casualties. The Western military