A NATO air strike has destroyed two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan, with civilians among scores of casualties.
Mahbubullah Sayedi, a spokesman for the Government in the Kunduz province, said about 90 people were killed - mostly militants.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the strike killed a ''large number'' of militants, and it was investigating reports of civilian casualties, AFP reports.
More than 50 militants were killed, ministry spokesman Christian Dienst said. The attack left 60 people killed and dozens injured, Mohammadreza Yaghoubi, deputy chief of security for Kunduz, said in a phone interview. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen ordered an inquiry into the incident.
"According to the information available to us there have been no civilian casualties," Dienst told reporters in Berlin. "Had civilians been present, the air strikes could not have been called in."
The incident comes at a sensitive time for Germany, less than four weeks before Chancellor Angela Merkel contests national elections on Sept. 27. Oskar Lafontaine, co-leader of the opposition Left Party, said the attack underlined the need to withdraw German troops from Afghanistan, Bloomberg informs.
The NATO chief also vowed to conduct a thorough probe into the air bombing, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai decried the attack, saying "targeting civilians is unacceptable to us."
But Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, a public affairs officer, said NATO warplanes destroyed the two tankers after determining that there were no civilians in the area, New York Daily News reports.