KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A U.S. helicopter attacked a house in a village in southern Afghanistan, killing 11 people, four of them children, Afghan officials said Monday.
The U.S. military said it conducted a weekend raid in the area in which it killed five armed militants. It said it had no information about civilian casualties.
The attack occurred around 9 p.m. Sunday in Saghatho, a village where U.S. forces hunting for Taliban (search) fighters had carried out searches the day before, said Abdul Rahman, chief of Char Chino district in Uruzgan province.
"They were simple villagers, they were not Taliban. I don't know why the U.S. bombed this home. We have informed our authorities," he told The Associated Press by telephone in the southern city of Kandahar.
The governor of Uruzgan, Jan Mohammed Khan, confirmed Rahman's account that four men, four children and three women were killed in a U.S. bombing.
He said U.S. authorities had told him they seen ammunition in their search of the village, which apparently raised suspicions. During the search, "the people were afraid, they started running," Khan said.
"The Americans bombed this home," he said.
In Kabul (search), U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty confirmed a weekend air strike north of Deh Rawood, a town in Uruzgan province where the U.S. military has a base.
"Coalition forces engaged from the air and killed five armed anti-coalition militia members," Hilferty said, but had no information about any civilian casualties.
"The coalition does have stringent rules of engagement and we carefully weigh the use of deadly force," he said.
Rahman said the 11 victims were buried early Monday in the village, where residents were "very afraid and very angry."
About 100 Afghan forces and between 20 and 30 U.S. soldiers have arrested 10 suspects in an operation in the Mahmara and Saghatho areas of Char Chino district in the past two days, he said.
At least 15 civilians died in the past month because of botched raids by the U.S. military.
On Dec. 5, six children died when a wall fell on them during a nighttime assault on a complex in eastern Paktia province where the U.S. military seized hidden weapons caches.
The next day, nine more children were found dead in a field after an attack by an A-10 ground attack on a mountain village in neighboring Ghazni province.
Both attacks were aimed at wanted militants, but neither target was among those killed.
More than 11,000 U.S.-led forces are hunting fugitives from the former ruling Taliban regime and Al Qaeda (search) in southern and eastern Afghanistan.