From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
Senior military and Pentagon officials acknowledge that U.S. special operations forces inadvertently killed three women during a commando operation in Afghanistan in February, but deny allegations that the American forces tried to cover it up.
On Feb. 12, shortly after midnight in Gardez, U.S. Special Operations forces, along with Afghan forces were on a nighttime raid to capture a known Taliban operator responsible for a major impovised explosive device, or IED, operation. When they came upon the compound, a man armed with an AK-47 emerged and was shot dead by U.S. snipers. A short time later, a second man, also armed with an AK-47, appeared in a doorway, and he too was shot dead by at least two snipers firing five to six shots. Military officials say it is now evident the three women were in the room behind the man shot in the doorway.
By the time the larger unit of Special Forces arrived at the compound, family members had apparently moved the bodies of the two men into a seperate room along with the bodies of the three women. The military's forensic investigators have photos of all five bodies together, some already prepared for burial. By then, family members had also apparently attempted to wash down the walls in the room where the male victim was shot in the doorway.
The intial ISAF (US/NATO) incorrectly stated that while U.S. forces shot the two men, it appeared the three women were killed before the raid.
A seperate Afghan investigation, based on interviews with family members the day after the attack, determined the three women were shot by U.S. forces. The father of one of the dead women also claimed U.S. soldiers had dug bullets out of the women's bodies and the wall in an apparent attempt to hide the evidence.
U.S. officials say the soldiers did dig two slugs out of a wall, in an attempt to identify the sources of the bullet holes, but deny they attempted to retrieve any bullets from the bodies.
ISAF and the U.S. military have opened a third investigation in an effort to reconcile the differences in the two reports.