At least 20 Afghan civilians killed in airstrike

ASADABAD- At least 20 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, were killed in an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Kunar late on Friday, local officials said.
The strike, against local Taliban commander Sharif Mawiya, was the latest in a series targeting senior insurgents, including the shadow governor of the strategic southern province of Helmand, who was killed on Dec. 2.
Several Taliban military commanders have been killed this month by Afghan forces, backed by U.S. advisers and air power.
The tactic has raised the risk of civilian casualties and Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of the provincial council, said eight women and 12 children were killed and more than 15 others wounded in Friday's airstrike.
However a spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission denied that there were civilian deaths, although she said some civilians were wounded.
"The Taliban continue to use civilians as shields and barricade themselves inside compounds while engaging the Afghan forces," said Debra Richardson of Resolute Support.
She said U.S. airstrikes were supporting the new Afghan army strategy of targeting the entire Taliban organization, from low level fighters to high ranking leaders.