KABUL, March 2 (Reuters) - NATO said on Saturday its forces had accidentally shot dead two Afghan boys, in the latest of a series of reports of civilian deaths at the hands of international troops.
The shooting in the southern province of Uruzgan could further strain the relationship between the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has demanded U.S. special forces leave another province over allegations of torture.
The two boys were shot dead when they were mistaken for insurgents during an operation in northwest Uruzgan on Feb. 28, ISAF commander, U.S. General Joseph Dunford, said in a statement.
"I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed," Dunford said.
"The boys were killed when Coalition forces fired at what they thought were insurgent forces," he said, adding that a team of Afghan and ISAF investigators visited the village on Saturday and met local leaders.
The area, Lowar-e-Dowahom, was often patrolled by international troops, a spokesman for provincial governor Amir Mohammad Akhundzada said.
"They saw two young children who were apparently listening to a radio and they shot them - it is not yet clear why," the spokesman said.
Australian forces deployed in Uruzgan said earlier there had been an "operational incident" in the province's northwest but gave no details except that no soldiers were harmed.
On Feb. 13 a NATO air strike requested by Afghan forces killed 10 people - including five children and four women - in the eastern province of Kunar, prompting Karzai to ban his troops from requesting foreign air strikes.
Two weeks later he halted all special forces operations in the central province of Wardak after a series of allegations involving U.S. special forces soldiers and Afghan men said to be working with them. (Reporting by Mirwais Harooni, Ismail Sameem and Dylan Welch; Editing by Andrew Roche)
Earlier on HuffPost:
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford
Nationality: American Served: Feb. 10, 2013 to present <em>Caption: Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his confirmation to be the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and to be commander of the U.S. Forces, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)</em>
Marine Gen. John R. Allen
Nationality: American Served: July 18, 2011 to Feb. 10, 2013 <em>Caption: This July 22, 2012, file photo shows U.S. Gen. John Allen, top commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Army Gen. David Petraeus
Nationality: American Served: July 4, 2010 to July 18, 2011 <em>Caption: In this July 5, 2010, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, then newly-installed top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, eats bread at a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ahmad Massoud, File)</em>
Lt. Gen. Nick Parker
Nationality: British Served: June 23, 2010 to July 4, 2010 Assumed interim command after Gen. Stanley McChrystal resigned <em>Caption: Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker, the Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces, arrives at the Houses of Parliament on Dec. 12, 2012 in London, England. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Stanley McChrystal
Nationality: American Served: June 15, 2009 to June 23, 2010 <em>Caption: Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal smiles while speaking during his retirement ceremony at Fort McNair July 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. David D. McKiernan
Nationality: American Served: June 2, 2008 to June 15, 2009 <em>Caption: In this Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008 file photo, U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, then top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference with Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Mohammad Akram, not pictured, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Gen. Dan K. McNeill
Nationality: American Served: Feb. 7, 2007 to June 2, 2008 <em>Caption: In this Monday, June 11, 2007 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeill, then top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, speaks during an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Gen. David Richards
Nationality: British Served: May 4, 2006 to Feb. 7, 2007 <em>Caption: U.S. General Martin Dempsey, right, and British General Sir David Richards listen to the opening comments during a meeting of NATO Military Chiefs of Staff at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)</em>
Gen. Mauro del Vecchio
Nationality: Italian Served: Aug. 5, 2005 to May 4, 2006 <em>Caption: Mauro Del Vecchio attends 'Italia - Milano, 150 Anni In Salute' - Charity Gala held at Villa Necchi on June 28, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Ethem Erdagi
Nationality: Turkish Served: Feb. 6, 2005 to Aug. 5, 2005 <em>Caption: Incoming Turkish Commander Lieutenant General Ethem Erdagi (L) is watched by French Lieutenant General Jean-Louis Py (R) as he addresses an audience during a change of command ceremony at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul, Feb. 13, 2005. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Jean-Louis Py
Nationality: French Served: Aug. 7, 2004 to Feb. 6, 2005 <em>Caption: French Commander of the International Security Assistance Force(ISAF) General Jean-Louis Py (L) shakes hands with Afghan tribal elders in Fayzabad, Dec. 16, 2004. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Rick Hillier
Nationality: Canadian Served: Feb. 9, 2004 to Aug. 7, 2004 <em>Caption: Chief of the Defense Staff General Rick Hillier of the Canadian Armed Forces drops the puck along with members of the Canadian Military during a ceremonial face-off with Mike Fisher #12 of the Ottawa Senators and Mats Sundin #13 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre, Feb. 2, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth
Nationality: German Served: Aug. 11, 2003 to Feb. 9, 2004 First ISAF-mission under the command of NATO, led by NATO <em>Caption: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander Lieutenant-General Goetz Gliemeroth gestures during a press conference in Kabul, Jan. 21, 2004. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Norbert Van Heyst
Nationality: German Served: Feb. 10, 2003 to Aug. 11, 2003 <em>Caption: Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst of Germany, commander of th International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF speaks to the media in Kabul Wednesday, March 5, 2003. (AP Photo/Amir Shah)</em>
Maj. Gen. Hilmi Akin Zorlu
Nationality: Turkish Served: June 2002 to Feb. 10, 2003 <em>Caption: Commander ISAF Major General Hilmi Akin Zorlu make a short speech at the Old King's Palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 10, 2002. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)</em>
Maj. Gen. John McColl
Nationality: British Served: December 2001 to June 2002 <em>Caption: General Sir John McColl arrives at the Iraq Inquiry on Feb. 8, 2010 in London, England. General Sir John McColl was the Senior British Military Representative in Iraq in 2004. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)</em>