Karzai condemns foreign forces for civilian deaths


ASADABAD – Afghan President Hamid Karzai angrily criticised foreign forces Wednesday on civilian deaths, warning against daily killing after officials said nine children died in an air strike. Karzai told the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which has 140,000 troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, that it could face “huge problems” if mistaken civilian deaths did not stop.
His statement came after an Afghan police chief said nine children died in an air strike targeting insurgents Tuesday in the troubled northeastern province of Kunar, which has seen a string of recent reported civilian deaths. It again highlighted tensions between Karzai and the international community in Afghanistan ahead of the planned start of a limited withdrawal of foreign troops from July.
The Afghan army and police are due to take control of security in their own country from 2014. “I once again point out that NATO and ISAF must focus on terrorist bases and havens or otherwise, with the daily killing of innocent civilians, they will cause huge problems for themselves,” Karzai said in a statement issued by his office in Kabul.
He added that the nine children said to have been killed in the latest strike had been gathering fire wood. A spokesman for ISAF said a delegation made up of Afghan and ISAF officials had deployed to carry out an investigation into the latest incident.
It said on Tuesday that it takes claims of civilian casualties very seriously and pledged to investigate the most recent quickly and thoroughly. About 150 people demonstrated in the town of Asadabad, the capital of Kunar, following the latest incident. The crowd shouted anti-American slogans, witnesses said.