Karzai urges end to civilian casualties
AFP - Thursday, November 6
KABUL (AFP) - - Afghanistan's president said on Wednesday that around 40 villagers died this week in international air strikes targeting militants, as he urged Barack Obama to end civilian casualties in the "war on terror".
President Hamid Karzai said around 40 civilians were killed and 28 wounded in air strikes Monday in the southern province of Kandahar that locals said struck a wedding party.
The US military said people had been hurt and maybe killed and it was investigating.
Karzai's statement on the incident came hours after he said Obama's election as the first black US president heralded a new world era, and hoped his own country could one day overcome its ethnic divisions.
But he also raised his nation's concern about the mounting number of ordinary Afghans killed in international military action against the extremist Taliban militia driven from government in a US-led invasion in 2001.
"My first demand from the US president, when he takes office, would be to end civilian casualties in Afghanistan and take the war to places where there are terrorist nests and training centres," Karzai told a press briefing.
Locals said Monday's strike was called in after troops were fired at near their village in southern Shah Wali Kot district.
"I can't confirm numbers," US forces spokesman Colonel Greg Julian told AFP, adding the military regretted every time civilians became "collateral damage" when troops confronted militants.
The bride was among seven women and three children admitted to a Kandahar hospital with injuries said to be from the strikes, an AFP reporter said.
The groom also survived, but he and his wife lost several relatives, locals told AFP in Wocha Bakhto village about 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kandahar.
"My wounded son was in my arms, right here, bleeding," cried the father of the bride, Roozbeen Khan. "He died last night."
"I lost two sons, two grandsons, a nephew, my mother and a cousin," Khan wailed. "Why? Why?"
Villagers said a wedding lunch had just ended and the bride was preparing to say farewell to her family when someone, believed to be a Taliban insurgent, fired at international troops who were on a nearby hill.
The soldiers returned fire and called for air support, said a man who gave his name as Abdul Jalil.
Civilians have been killed before in military action in Afghanistan, threatening popular support for efforts against the Taliban-led insurgency.
In Kabul, the president said the issue of civilian casualties had caused tensions in his government's relationship with the previous administration in the United States, the leading supplier of troops to Afghanistan.
Karzai also reiterated that Obama's administration should change strategy in the "war on terror", in which international forces now numbering 70,000 have failed to crush the insurgency.
"The 'war on terror' cannot be fought in Afghan villages... it should be directed to its nests and its training centres," he said, referring to militant hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan said to send fighters into Afghanistan.
Insurgents attacks are at the highest this year with the Taliban said to be joined by Islamic militants from other countries.
In a new incident, a bomb killed five policemen guarding archaeological sites in the southern province of Logar adjoining Kabul, police said, blaming the Taliban.
Seven militants were killed in a battle that erupted after they attacked a logistics convoy in Wardak, another province bordering the capital.
And the British military announced that a Gurkha soldier was killed Tuesday when a patrol came under attack in the volatile southern province of Helmand.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Most Popular – Top Stories
Obama wins US election, to become first black president
US elects Obama as its first black president
Obama's grandmother, family 'rock', dies on election eve
Stocks, dollar rise as Obama takes White House
World hails Obama's victory, urges change of tack
View Complete List »