Airstrikes by NATO-led forces in southern Afghanistan killed nine people, including six children and two insurgents, Afghan officials said on Thursday.

Two girls were also injured in the airstrikes in Kandahar province, the president’s office said.

“NATO military helicopters identified five insurgents who were planting bombs along the road. The helicopter killed two of them, while two others ran away and hid in Siacha village,” said Niyaz Mohammad, a local governor. One insurgent was injured.

“Later, military helicopters bombed the location where they (the insurgents) were hiding and as a result six children who were playing nearby were killed,” the governor added. A man injured in the second attack died later in hospital.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the aerial attack in a statement. NATO said it had launched an inquiry into the incident.

“Protecting the Afghan civilian population is central to our mission here in Afghanistan and we will investigate this situation fully to determine exactly what took place and whether any further actions need to be taken,” said General John Allen, commander of NATO-led forces.

In a separate incident, a NATO helicopter made a safe emergency landing, the military alliance said, denying a Taliban claim that it had shot down the aircraft.

The Taliban said in a statement its fighters had shot the helicopter down over the province of Kabul, killing 33 NATO soldiers.

“Initial reporting indicates that there was no enemy activity in the area”, said NATO spokesman Christopher DeWitt, adding that all crew members were unhurt.

Meanwhile Taliban killed at least seven private security guards in an ambush in western province of Farah on Thursday.

The guards were in a convoy belonging to a private company that provides logistics for international forces when they were attacked.

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