NATO denies responsibility for Afghan school attack
24 February, 2012
KABUL: NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force Thursday denied involvement in what Afghans said was a helicopter attack on a school that injured nine children in eastern Nangarhar province.
"We have confirmed that (there) were no ISAF aircraft in the vicinity of the incident and that the nearest ISAF aircraft was operating almost four kilometres away," it said in a statement.
"ISAF and local Afghan officials are continuing to look into the original claim and more information may be available at a later time," it added.
The Afghan defence ministry, which operates a small fleet of helicopters including Russian-made Mi-24 gunships, was not immediately available for comment. School principal Abdul Ahad told AFP he witnessed the attack on Wednesday morning. "Our students were in their classrooms. Two helicopters came from the Jalalabad direction and the first one started shooting," Ahad said.
"We ran and while running I saw the kids falling down from injuries. Both helicopters went away towards Kunar (in the northeast)." A former government official whose daughter was among the victims, also insisted that the school came under attack.
"I don't know what exactly happened, maybe it was a mistake, but the helicopters have fired and nine children and the school janitor have been wounded," said Ayoub Sharafaat. Military helicopters frequently conduct exercises involving firing at a nearby mountain, he said.