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Karzai: No NATO airstrikes on houses
Question of the Day
Even so, Karzai’s history suggests that he may walk back Tuesday’s remarks.
Last week, Karzai ordered that only Afghan troops should carry out night raids — which often upset Afghans who say they violate their privacy and often target the wrong people. Karzai later relaxed his stance, reminding NATO that Afghans need to be in control and in the lead for such raids.
Last year, Karzai said he was kicking all private security contractors out of the country by the end of 2010. He later agreed to a new system of licensing contractors when it became clear Afghan police were far from ready to take over the duties of private firms, including the protection of NATO supply convoys.
And while Karzai regularly and publicly condemns NATO for not doing enough to reduce civilian casualties, international military officials respond that their private discussions with Karzai and his ministers often have a very different tone. In private, Afghan officials say international troops should keep up the pace of night raids and air strikes because they work. Those officials have always spoke anonymously so as not to contradict the Afghan government.
Rear Adm. Vic Beck, also speaking for NATO in Kabul, said the alliance was equally concerned perceptions that it was an occupying force. It was working to transfer as much authority to the Afghans as possible, increasing their leadership in night raids.
NATO said at least nine civilians were killed in Saturday’s airstrike in Helmand province. Afghan officials have said 14 were killed, including at least 10 children and two women.
NATO officials apologized for the Nawzad district strike, saying they launched it in response to an insurgent attack on a coalition patrol that killed a U.S. Marine. Five insurgents occupied a compound and continued to attack coalition troops, who then called in the airstrike. The troops later discovered civilians inside the house.
NATO has significantly reduced civilian casualties in recent years, but civilians deaths from insurgent attacks have spiked.
The fighting has also continued to take the lives of international and Afghan forces. In the latest incident Tuesday, a NATO service member was killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan, according to a statement from NATO forces. The military alliance did not provide further details. The U.S. also announced that three of its service members died in a bomb attack in the east on Saturday
Including these deaths, 55 NATO service members have been killed in May, including at least 31 Americans.
• Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Don Melvin in Brussels contributed to this report.
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