Afghan tribal elders threaten to boycott elections

December 27th, 2008 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanKabul, Dec 27 (Xinhua) Chieftains and tribal elders in Afghanistan’s southern province of Zabul have warned that they would boycott the upcoming presidential election if the government fails to protect civilians from being harmed in the anti-terror campaign, a newspaper reported Saturday.”Tribal elders in southern Zabul province warned Thursday that they would boycott the upcoming presidential elections unless foreign forces halt irresponsible military operations,” the Daily Outlook wrote.

The warning came amid operations launched in the province against militants and the reported killing of non-combatants.

“Military operation against undesirable elements is underway over the past two days during which, according to locals, both civilians and police have been killed and injured,” the newspaper said.

A tribal elder and member of Musrano Jirga or the upper house of Afghan parliament, Zalmai, had stressed that NATO troops should coordinate their operations with national forces to reduce civilian casualties.

He also said that harming civilians would damage the popularity of the government among the people.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly criticised harming civilians and appealed for avoiding non-combatant casualties during operations of international troops against the insurgents.

Some 2,000 Afghan civilians have been killed mostly in air strikes during operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan since the launching of US-led war on terror seven years ago.

The most gruesome incident of this year came Aug 22 when more than 90 civilians lost their lives in US air raids against suspected militants in Shindand district of Herat province in western Afghanistan.

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