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Afghan Civilians Killed in Bus Incident

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 - NATO's International Assistance Security Force in Afghanistan is expressing regret over civilian casualties that occurred today after a bus was driven toward a patrol of international troops, military officials said.

ISAF officials released a statement that says ISAF "deeply regrets the tragic loss of life" in the Zhari district of Kandahar province early this morning after troops fired at a bus in which the driver ignored warnings and tried to speed into the patrol.

Four civilians were killed, five others were treated for injuries at the scene, and 13 people checked themselves into medical facilities following the pre-dawn incident, which occurred when a large vehicle speeded toward the rear of a slow-moving ISAF route-clearance patrol, officials said. The convoy could not move to the side of the road to allow the vehicle to pass due to the steep embankment, officials said. The ISAF patrol warned off the approaching vehicle once with a flashlight and three times with flares, but the driver didn't heed the warnings. >

Perceiving a threat when the vehicle approached once more at an increased rate of speed, the patrol attempted to warn off the vehicle with hand signals prior to firing upon it. Once it was engaged, the vehicle stopped.

Upon inspection, ISAF forces discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus. The ISAF patrol provided immediate medical assistance to five injured civilians and transported some of them to local medical facilities.

A combined Afghan-international incident assessment team is reviewing the events.

In other news from Afghanistan:

  • A combined security force captured a Haqqani terrorist group member believed to be responsible for improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The combined force was approaching a group in the Zurmat district of Paktia province when several militants started to run. One turned and charged the security force, and was shot and wounded. The rest of the militants were quickly cornered by the force and surrendered. A search of the militants' tents uncovered multiple automatic rifles, grenades and ammunition.
  • In Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province this morning, a combined patrol found a cache containing seven rocket-propelled grenades, two mortar rounds, 30 artillery rounds, eight 60 mm shells and other ammunition. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache. -- In Kandahar last night, a combined force searched a compound in south Kandahar City and detained two suspected militants for further questioning.
  • Also in Kandahar last night, another combined force searched a compound west of Kandahar City after intelligence indicated militant activity. The force captured a Taliban member involved in roadside-bomb emplacements, defenses and assignments. Several other militants also were captured in the operation. The assault force also found explosive materials.
  • In the Tirin Kot district of Uruzgan province yesterday, an ISAF patrol found a cache containing two RPG rounds, an RPG rocket and three boxes of small-arms ammunition. An EOD team destroyed the cache.
  • Afghan soldiers detained a man with bomb materials and pictures of ISAF vehicles in the Sabari district of Khost province April 10 after members of an ISAF unit saw the man emplacing a roadside bomb. The explosives were destroyed.
  • Also on April 10, a combined force searched a compound in north Lashkar Gah in Helmand province and detained two suspected militants for further questioning.

No shots were fired and no civilians were harmed during these operations, officials said.

(Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command news releases.)

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