Karzai Condemns Coaltion Airstrike Amid Conflicting Reports of Civilian Casualties

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai condemned a coalition airstrike that he said killed as many as 95 Afghan civilians, including 50 children, in western Afghanistan on Thursday.

The incident occurred when coalition forces came under attack in Azizabad, a village in the Shindand district of Herat province, and called in an airstrike.

The strike, part of a joint mission between Afghan Commandos and U.S. Special Operations Forces, killed at least 25 militants, including a Taliban leader, Mullah Sadiq, the U.S. military said. The Afghanistan-American force also destroyed a major terrorist arms and explosive storage depot, and confiscated weapons, ammunitions and thousands of dollars in cash.

But there have been conflicting reports over civilian casualties.

Government officials who traveled to the village of Azizabad Saturday said the death total had increased to 95 from 76, making it one of the deadliest bombing strikes on civilians in six years of the war.

On Friday, the Afghan Interior Ministry said that the operation resulted in 76 civilian deaths, many of them women and children. A day later, an Afghan Human Rights organization claimed that 88 civilians had been killed.

The U.S. military said Saturday that it was investigating the attack.

FOX News' Oliver North, who was embedded with the troops conducting the raid said, "Coalition forces are investigating these claims but have not been able to find any evidence that non-combatants were killed in this engagement."

This kind of controversy is commonplace in a counter-insurgency campaign.

"The Taliban and their supporters are running a very effective propaganda campaign to counter coalition efforts in western Afghanistan," North said.

Moreover, some Afghan officials have been known to exaggerate claims made to Coalition Forces because of pressure from the Taliban or to demand more money for compensation.

Oliver North and FOX News Cameraman Chris Jackson, accompanying the U.S. Special Forces conducting the operation, said that they did not see any non-combatants killed. "We did see an Afghan woman and her child, wounded in the crossfire, being treated by an Afghan Commando and U.S. medics," North said. "And we saw them evacuated to a coalition hospital for treatment."

There have been calls from Afghan lawmakers and Western analysts to tighten constraints on special operations forces, which often call in airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the soldiers and Marines of the Special Operations command here say they will continue to work with Afghan Commandos to bring security to this region.