An airstrike by U.S.-led forces near the eastern border of Afghanistan killed seven children Sunday night — a tragic error that coalition forces attributed to al-Qaida operatives who had used “human shields” as cover, according to The New York Times.

New York Times:

The air strike, which took place on Sunday night, hit a compound in the Zarghun Shah district of the border province of Paktika containing a mosque and a religious school. The coalition forces said its intelligence had shown it was being used as a safe house for Al Qaeda fighters.

Several militants were killed in the strike, and two militants were also detained, the coalition said.

“We are truly sorry for the innocent lives lost in this attack,” said United States Army Maj. Chris Belcher. “We had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building.”

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