Canada probes whether blast killed Afghan children

Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:32am EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is investigating allegations that two Afghan children died after handling unexploded munitions left behind when Canadian troops held a firing practice session, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.

Canadian media said that after the incident, which took place near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan on Monday, protesters chanting "Death to Canada" carried the remains of the children to a local government building.

"Canadian forces have strict policies in place that prohibit leaving behind any unexploded ordnance and (they) make every effort to ensure the safety of Afghan civilians," said a defense ministry spokesman, saying the area had been examined closely after the firing session.

"The incident is currently under investigation ... as soon as we get any more information we're going to release it," he said, but declined to give further details.

A Canadian military spokesman in Afghanistan earlier told reporters that the area where the firing practice had been carried out was "littered with all kinds of unexploded ordinance and mines".

Canada has about 2,700 soldiers based in Kandahar on a mission that is due to end in 2011.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)