Coalition forces kill five Afghan civilians: Police

March 14th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, March 14 (DPA) US-led coalition soldiers killed a father and four of his sons Saturday in an operation in central Afghanistan, a police commander said, but the US military called the victims “militants”.
The incident took place in a village in Logar province’s Charkh district when the coalition attacked a residential compound, said the provincial police chief, General Mustafa Muhseni.

“Abdul Rashid and four of his sons were killed and one other male member of his family was wounded in the ground-and-air operation conducted by the coalition forces,” Muhseni said.

He said the victims were farmers and “police do not have any evidence to prove their involvement in terrorist activities or criminal cases”.

A US military spokesman, however, said that troops killed “five militants” in an operation.

The soldiers also detained one suspect in the pre-dawn operation, which Muhseni said was not coordinated with Afghan forces in the province.

Hundreds of villagers had gathered near Rashid’s house and were planning a demonstration, Gholam Eshan, a resident, said over telephone.

“The people are very angry,” he said. “If we keep quiet, the foreigners will come again and again and will kill us like they killed a lot of people in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.”

Civilian casualties have become a delicate issue in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has admitted that his repeated pleas with international forces to avoid civilian deaths had created a rift between his government and its foreign patrons.

Recently, NATO’s military leadership agreed to let Afghan forces lead house searches and operations against suspects in residential areas.

Saturday’s attack could be deemed as breach of that agreement and further strain the Afghan government’s foreign relations.

Logar province, which lies on the southern border of Kabul, has become a scene of Taliban-led activities. Insurgents have installed a shadow government in several areas of the province, where they mete out their own brand of Islamic justice.

More than 3,000 US forces were deployed to Logar and Wardak, another province west of Kabul, in January to protect the seat of the Western-backed government.

More than 70,000 international troops from 41 nations are currently deployed in Afghanistan and US President Barack Obama has announced that 17,000 more US soldiers would be stationed in the country this year.

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