France's army said on Thursday that NATO troops killed four young Afghans in crossfire in eastern Afghanistan this month.
Civilians being killed by foreign forces has often led to massive protests in Afghanistan and more public anger against troops' presence in the country.
The four civilians were killed by a missile attack during a joint French-Afghan anti-insurgent operation on April 6, army spokesman Christophe Prazuck said. A fifth Afghan was injured.
"Our conclusion is that these young Afghans were under trees, hidden from view of the observer, which explains why we he didn't see them," Prazuck said, adding the casualties were aged between 10 and 15 years of age."
The United Nations said in a report in January that 2,400 civilians were killed last year in Afghanistan.
The U.N. report condemned the placement of military bases near areas where many civilians live, and violent "search and seizure" raids by pro-government and foreign troops.
France, the fourth biggest contributor to the Afghan international military mission with about 3,750 troops in the region, after the United States, Britain and Germany, has ruled out sending more combat troops.
ReutersLast Mod: 30 Nisan 2010, 08:18