Hundreds protest US-led airstrikes in Afghanistan

May 7th, 2009 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, May 7 (DPA) Hundreds of people took to the streets Thursday in western Afghanistan to protest deadly airstrikes by US-led forces that allegedly killed more than 100 civilians, a lawmaker and witnesses said.
The protesters gathered in the main mosque in Farah city Thursday morning and chanted slogans against the US forces in the country and Afghan government.

Provincial lawmakers and residents said more than 100 civilians, including women and children, were killed when airstrikes by US-led forces targeted militants in the village of Gerani in Bala Boluk district Monday.

If confirmed, it would be the deadliest incident involving civilian fatalities since the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday their team saw dozens of bodies at the attack site.

On Thursday Afghan security forces fired shots into the air when the protesters tried to approach the provincial governor’s office, Ahmad Wali, a Farah resident, told DPA.

He said several people were wounded when the demonstrators hurled stones at security forces and they responded with gunshots.

“Three people were wounded during the demonstration and received treatment in a city hospital,” Farah legislator Mohammad Musa Nasrat said, adding that he was not certain if they were wounded by bullets, or trampled by other protesters when they fled the area after the shots were fired.

“More than 1,000 people took part in today’s (Thursday) protest, and they just want their voice to be heard and the culprits be punished,” Nasrat said.

“The residents in Farah city closed their shops and gathered in the central mosque to pray for the dead civilians and express their anger against this barbaric act by American forces.”

A joint team of Afghan government officials and US military forces were scheduled to visit the villages concerned Thursday to investigate the incident, Deputy Provincial Governor Mohammad Younus Rasouli said.

The airstrikes took place in the area Monday night after militants killed three civilians and three policemen in Girani village. Afghan officials said that at least 25 militants were also killed in the operation.

Civilian casualties caused by US strikes have been an ongoing source of tension between the US and Afghan leaders.

More than 2,100 civilians were among thousands of people - mostly insurgents - killed in Afghanistan’s conflict last year, according to the UN. Afghan and UN investigators said that around 90 civilians were killed in a US air raid in the western province of Herat last August.

The US military initially denied many civilians had been killed in that incident, but later acknowledged that 33 people were killed when videos showing dead bodies of women and children emerged.

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