Afghanistan's ambassador to Australia has lashed out after Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the nation would likely pay only "hundreds of dollars" in compensation to the family of two Afghan children killed in an air strike.
Two key independent MPs have questioned the small sum being offered to the grieving Afghan family, calling it insulting.
Mr Smith said Australia was likely to pay hundreds rather than thousands of dollars to the family of two Afghan boys aged seven and eight mistakenly killed in an air strike in Oruzgan province last week.
Although the Defence Department has refused to give specific details of the incident, it is believed the boys were killed after Australian special forces called in support from a US Apache attack helicopter.
Under its so-called "tactical payments system", Australian forces sometimes pay family members of civilians killed accidentally in military actions.
"It's part of Afghan culture that when a terrible incident or accident like this occurs . . . there is a form of compensation," Mr Smith told ABC.
"You can't put a price on a child's life and these payments are effected not because it's part of our culture or our regime or approach, if you like, it's because it's part of Afghan culture."
It is understood the payment to the Afghan family could be as little as $600.
Afghan ambassador Nasir Andisha said he was angered at the idea a dollar value could be put on the boys' lives.
"The life of each Afghan citizen is as valuable as the life of any other human being, irrespective of their economic or social status," Mr Andisha said. "Thus Afghan parents don't measure the lives of their children when they're taken away from them in how much money they can get for their loss."
South Australian and Tasmanian independents Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie said they were appalled by the sum being offered to the family.
Australian officials are still trying to understand the role Australian special forces had in directing the fire from the helicopter.The Federal Government does not reveal the value of the tactical payments for fear they could set a market in compensation.
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