Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Thursday condemned the killing of six children and an adult in the southern part of the country that local officials blame on a NATO airstrike.
Karzai's office said in a statement that local officials said NATO was responsible for the incident in the Zharzai district of Kandahar province.
NATO said that Gen. John Allen _ the top U.S. and allied commander in Afghanistan _ ordered an investigation into the incident, which occurred Wednesday.
The statement said Allen was saddened by the incident, which it said "concerns several civilians being killed and injured. This unfortunate incident occurred when coalition forces identified, and responded to, offensive actions by insurgents."
"Protecting the Afghan civilian population is central to our mission here in Afghanistan, and we will investigate this situation fully to determine exactly what took place and whether any further actions need to be taken," Allen said. "As was President Karzai, I too was saddened by this event."
It came as other violence flared around the country, as insurgents seeking to overthrown Karzai's government kept up their campaign of violence around Afghanistan.
An Afghan provincial official said seven Afghan guards working for a private security company were killed in the west of the country when Taliban militants attacked a convoy carrying goods for NATO.
A spokesman for the governor of western Farah province, Nakibullah Farai, said the Thursday attack lasted two hours and ended after Afghan police intervened. He said there were no foreign troops involved.
Farai said 10 vehicles were also destroyed in the attack. He says he does not know if there were Taliban casualties.
Earlier, Karzai nominated a U.S.-educated banker as the new governor of the country's central bank, his spokesman said Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Hamid Elmi named the candidate as Noorullah Delawari. His nomination comes after a five month vacancy in the post caused by turmoil in Afghanistan's banking system due to the near-collapse of the Kabul Bank, once the country's largest private financial institution.
Parliament is expected to discuss its approval of the appointment on Saturday, said lawmaker Gul Pacha Majeidi.
Delawari is a former central bank governor who now sits on the institution's governing board. He will replace Abdul Qadir Fitrat, who fled to northern Virginia in late June after claiming to have received threats to his life in connection with Kabul Bank scandal.
Kabul Bank became a symbol of the country's deep-rooted corruption, and the case was closely followed by Afghans and international donors because it is widely perceived to be a test of the government's pledge to root out patronage and graft.
Afghanistan's financial system appears to be slowly recovering from the aftereffects of the near-collapse, which required a massive central bank bailout.
Last week, the IMF approved a three-year $133.6 million loan for Afghanistan because it found the government had taken steps to address governance and accountability issues that surfaced during the Kabul Bank crisis. The decision reassured international donors, many whom had withheld aid while waiting for the IMF decision.
The Kabul Bank has been split into two parts, a healthy one being run by the Afghan Finance Ministry, and another which is has taken over hundreds of millions of dollars in bad loans. The Afghan government hopes to put the healthy bank up for sale in the middle of next year.
In October, the Afghan Finance Ministry said that of the more than $800 million in fraudulent loans issued by Kabul Bank, more than $70 million has been recovered; $350 million in loans have been restructured for repayment; and $110 million in assets associated with the loans have been seized and transferred to the government.
Delawari, who is in his mid-60s, also heads the Afghan Investment Support Agency. The Afghan government set up the agency in September 2003 as a one-stop shop for investors. The agency oversees registration, licensing and promotion of new investments in Afghanistan.
Delawari left Afghanistan in the 1960s and studied in the United States and Britain. He worked at several banks in the United States, including 16 years as vice president of the multinational division of Lloyds Bank of California.
Since returning to Afghanistan in 2002, Delawari has also been an adviser to the president. He was governor of Afghanistan's central bank from November 2004 to December 2007.