Canadian Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, the chief spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said that Friday's strike was "clearly directed at the insurgents" and said the alliance was "deeply concerned for the suffering that this action may have caused to our Afghan friends."
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the hijacking and blamed Western forces for the civilian deaths. News agencies quoted spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid as saying that the trucks were a fair target for the Taliban because they were supplying Western troops.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, the U.N. mission issued a statement expressing concern about the reports of civilian casualties. The U.S. Embassy offered condolences to those killed and injured while emphasizing that it awaited the results of a joint investigation with Afghan officials.
President Hamid Karzai, who with challenger Abdullah Abdullah is awaiting election results, dispatched investigators and declared that targeting civilians "under no circumstances is acceptable." Karzai has for months been highly critical of Western battlefield practices that he says lead to far too many Afghan civilian deaths. That, together with problems like drug-fueled corruption in his government, have contributed to a cooling in his relations with the West.