Western military officials announced Feb. 17 that they had resumed use of a weapon system employed in a strike that killed 12 people inside an Afghan family home, most of them women and children. NATO said an investigation found that the weapon had not malfunctioned in Sunday’s strike but that it still was not known why the house was rocketed. The deaths marked the first major incident involving civilian casualties in a military offensive spearheaded by U.S. Marines that began Saturday around the southern Afghan town of Marja. Before the start of the assault on the Taliban stronghold, American commanders had pledged to do their utmost to protect people living in the area. The NATO statement shifted blame away from any targeting error involving the weapon, known as a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is a multiple rocket launcher mounted on a truck. It appeared to suggest that the family home that was hit was in fact the building that Western forces had intended to strike. However, Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Vician, a spokesman for the ISAF, stopped short of confirming that, saying the matter was still under investigation. (L.A. Times)

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