News & Current Affairs

August 23, 2008

Afghanistan criticizes US attack

Afghanistan criticizes US attack

By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Kabul

US soldier in Afghanistan

The US counter-insurgency mission is trying to win local support

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticized US forces for “unilateral operations” in the west which, the government says, killed at least 70.

A spokesman for the US task force, that operates outside Nato, said an inquiry was under way. They had initially denied any civilians had been killed.

Tribal elders said a bomb had been dropped on mourners at a wake in Herat.

Meanwhile, a local MP said Afghan security forces had fired on hundreds of people protesting against the raid.

He said they had killed at least one person and wounded two others.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said initial findings were that 78 civilians had been killed in the US raid, including women and children, but this could not be fully verified and a delegation was investigating.

Mr Karzai’s statement said he had launched an investigation and had ordered various ministries to “prepare a comprehensive plan to prevent civilian casualties” which would be handed over to the coalition.

The US forces initially said they “remained confident” no civilians had been killed, something they said had been verified by Afghan security forces, but later added they were investigating and “every effort is made to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives”.

The issue of civilian casualties has constantly been a source of friction between Mr Karzai and international forces.

The deaths of innocent people not only affects families and tribes of those killed, but impacts on the whole counter-insurgency mission, which is to try and win people’s support, not drive them against the government and the international presence in Afghanistan.

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