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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Six Afghan Deaths Blamed on U.S.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The deaths of six villagers in what Afghan officials said was a U.S. airstrike embarrassed President Hamid Karzai's government Monday as it tried to rally support for a draft constitution that is key to reuniting the war-ravaged country.

The attack Friday night destroyed two houses in the village of Warez in eastern Nuristan province, killing four children, a woman, and a young man, Deputy Governor Abdul Haleem Nooristani said in a telephone interview.

Word of the attack reached Kabul on Monday, as Karzai accepted the draft of a new constitution that, if approved by a traditional grand council next month, would concentrate significant powers in the presidency. An aide to Karzai confirmed that the airstrike had taken place.

It occurred in a hostile region bordering Pakistan, where winning hearts and minds is seen as crucial to extending Kabul's control into the unruly heartland of the majority Pashtuns. The village of Warez is around 40 kilometers northwest of Asadabad, which sits near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The bombed houses belong to central government supporters Maulvi Ismail Khan and Maulvi Ghulam Rabani, former governor of Kunar province, Nooristani said.

Rabani's 16-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter were among the dead, added Nooristani, who said U.S. troops had ignored warnings to check with provincial authorities before launching attacks to avoid being misled by Afghan guides who use U.S. forces to settle local scores.

Jawed Ludin, Karzai's spokesman, said the central government was investigating the bombing.

Colonel Rodney Davis, spokesman for the U.S. command at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, did not respond to an interview request Monday.

Marine Captain David Romley, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no information on the incident and could not confirm that it happened.

The draft constitution, which Karzai and former King Mohammad Zahir Shah received from an independent commission Monday, is a central part of the effort to unite a country torn apart by 24 years of war. But if the Taliban insurgency, warlord rule and instability continue to wrack large parts of Afghanistan, it will be difficult to hold free and fair elections and to make the new constitution anything more than grand words on paper.

Although many Afghans have demanded that Afghanistan be ruled by sharia law, the draft constitution simply notes that, "The religion of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam."

Under the proposed constitution, Afghanistan would be ruled by a president and National Assembly, with an upper and lower house, and an independent judiciary, similar to the U.S. government. The president would be elected for a five-year term, could serve a maximum two terms in office and could be removed by a two-thirds majority of both the lower house and a traditional grand council, or loya jirga.