US investigates Afghan deaths

Afghan officials deny media reports saying civilians were killed in US-led raid.

    A Kabul-based human rights group says almost
    4,000 civilians were killed last year [AFP]

    Naimatullah Hakimi, the deputy police chief for Kapisa, said that a government delegation had met with local officials and elders near the site and determined that Mullah Patang, a local commander, was among 16 "enemies" who died.

    "No civilians were killed," he said.

    Sabor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial government, also said there had been no civilian deaths.

    Civilian deaths

    Foreign forces and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, have both come under heavy criticism over civilian deaths during US and Nato operations against Taliban fighters.

    "US-led Nato and coalition forces ... failed to ensure adequate safety and security for civilians in their counter-insurgency operations"

    Afghanistan Rights Monitor

    A human rights group said on Wednesday that US and Nato-led forces were responsible for the deaths of about 1,100 of the more than 4,000 Afghan civilians killed last year.

    The Kabul-based Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) said the figures were based on information gathered from locals, officials and elders across the country.

    "US-led Nato and coalition forces ... failed to ensure adequate safety and security for civilians in their counter-insurgency operations," ARM said.

    "Military operations conducted by these forces in 2008 caused at least 1,100 civilian deaths, 2,800 injuries and displaced from their homes around 80,000 people." 

    More than 6,800 Afghans were wounded in total and around 120,000 were forced out of their homes in 2008, the report said.

    'Means of control'

    The report said that anti-government groups used "appalling" killing methods to "spread terror among communities and establish a means of control".

    The figures are significantly higher than those given by the United Nations, which  says about 2,000 people were killed.

    Ajmal Samadi, an ARM researcher, said the UN's research was not conprehensive because of its lack of access to much of the country due to the security situation.

    Human rights groups and other Afghan officials have warned that the mounting civilian casualties threaten public support for the government and the war against the Taliban.

    Meanwhile, two separate attacks targeting Afghan security forces have killed at least seven people.

    In the first attack on Wednesday, two soldiers were killed after a suicide bomber targeted an Afghan army convoy in Herat province.

    Later five people died in an attack at the wedding of a local police chief in northern Baghlan province.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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