- - Thursday, June 7, 2012

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that 18 people killed in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday were all civilians.

NATO so far has said it has no records of civilian deaths in the pre-dawn strike on a house in Logar province. NATO and Afghan troops were going after a local Taliban leader when the international coalition says they came under fire and called in an airstrike.

“This is unacceptable. It cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Karzai said in a statement condemning the strike in Logar. He criticized NATO for not being able to provide an explanation for the vans piled with bodies of women and children that villagers displayed to reporters.

NATO confirmed only militant deaths from Wednesday’s strike but sent an assessment team to investigate allegations that civilians were killed either alongside or instead of insurgents.


Australia to lift remaining sanctions

YANGON — Australia will lift remaining sanctions against Myanmar and more than double its foreign aid to encourage democratic reforms, the country’s foreign minister said Thursday after talks with the government.

Bob Carr said in a statement released by his office that targeted travel and financial sanctions would be scrapped although an arms embargo will be maintained against the country formerly known as Burma.

“This is a time of great opportunity for the people of Myanmar, and countries like Australia should be doing what we can to add momentum to the process of democratization,” he said.

The statement added, however, that Australia “will retain the capacity to re-impose targeted sanctions in relation to Myanmar if required.”


Agency under fire over toilet makeover

NEW DELHI — An Indian government agency is being criticized for spending $63,000 to renovate its toilets just months after setting the national poverty line far below global standards.

The revelation sparked a public uproar with newspapers and some lawmakers demanding an explanation.

The Planning Commission tried Thursday to mitigate the outrage by saying the three restrooms could service up to 30 people at once. The cost included a $9,000 security card system to limit access. The decor of the rooms hasn’t been described.

India has 450 million people living below its poverty level of less than 50 cents a day. The World Bank’s poverty line is $1.25 a day.

The lower standard means India counts fewer people as poor enough to qualify for government assistance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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