[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Afghan president condemns deadly NATO strike

Hamid Karzai accuses NATO of killing 16 civilians in air strike in eastern Kunar province.

Last Modified: 09 Sep 2013 00:14
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned a NATO air strike in the east of the country that he said left 16
civilians dead, according to a statement from his office.

"Hamid Karzai considers attacking women and children against all accepted international norms and strongly condemns it," Sunday's statement read a day after air strikes hit Kunar province.

NATO said 10 fighters died in Saturday's strike, and that it had no reports of any civilian deaths.

The latest disputed air strike occurred in the Watapur district of Kunar province, which lies near the border with Pakistan.

It is a stronghold for armed groups, and many Arab and other foreign fighters are believed to operate there alongside the Afghan Taliban.

Some are suspected of links to the al-Qaeda network.

Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the air strike hit a pick-up truck carrying women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan fighters boarded it on Saturday evening.

He said some reports called it a drone strike, but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that.

Civilians infuriated

Of the 16 dead, four were women, four children and one the driver, the police official said.

Watapur district chief Zalmai Yousefi confirmed the air strike.

NATO spokeswoman 1st Lieutenant AnnMarie Annicelli confirmed that the military alliance carried out a "precision strike" that killed 10 "enemy forces," but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying in the air strike.

Annicelli had no immediate details on who exactly the dead were or what prompted the air strike.

Civilian deaths in NATO operations have long been a sore point between the Afghan government and the US-led troops in the country, and they have been a major factor in the animosity many Afghans feel towards foreign forces.

Conflicting accounts of who or how many died also are common, especially when remote, dangerous regions are involved and access by independent observers is restricted.

The president, Hamid Karzai, has spoken out forcefully against them and banned Afghan troops from requesting NATO air strikes during operations in residential areas.

About 1,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the first half of this year, a big number of them in insurgent attacks, according to the United Nations.

That marks a 24 percent increase in casualties compared to the same period last year.

Huge explosion

Meanwhile, a powerful explosion went off near an Afghan intelligence office in the country's east on Sunday, killing at least six people, local officials told Al Jazeera.

The officials said the people were in a minivan driving past the site when the bomb exploded.

Hazrat Janan, a member of the council that governs Wardak province, said the blast shattered windows of buildings in a wide stretch of Maidanshar city.

He said that gunshots were heard in the area immediately after the blast.

468

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.