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article imageNATO air strike in Afghanistan kills 10 civilians

By Ken Hanly     Feb 13, 2013 in World
Kabul - The strike was in the province of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan. The death toll included five children. Four Taliban were also killed and five civilians wounded.
The strike was immediately condemned by Karzai. He expressed his condolences to the families and also promised that the Afghan authorities would investigate the deaths. The International Security Assistance Force said that it was aware of the reported civilian deaths but had not yet confirmed them.
The governor of Kunar province said,"Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us." The governor confirmed that four Taliban fighters were also killed in the village of Chawgam. The civilians were all members of two local families and included five women and four children the governor claimed.. When Karzai confirmed the incident he again made his constant complaint that air strikes on Afghan villages were not the way to fight terrorism.
A statement from Karzai reads in part:"In Wednesday's air strike which was carried out by NATO forces, two houses were targeted where 10 civilians including women and children were martyred and four more wounded,." Karzai has constantly criticized attacks by special forces as well as air strikes that often cause civilian casualties, anger and the desire for revenge among villagers.
ISAF said:"We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and we are currently assessing the incident to determine more facts."
ISAF and other occupying authorities often disagree with local reports and usually refuse to admit any civilian casualties until forced to do so by evidence. ISAF claims that it has reduced civilian casualties in recent years and that the Taliban are now responsible for 84 per cent of all deaths and injuries. While no doubt the Taliban do cause many deaths and injuries through the use of IED's that often are exploded by civilian vehicles, ISAF figures probably put a positive spin on the situation that may not reflect reality. However, the UN does report that civilian casualties had dropped in 2012 from the previous year.
In his State of the Union Address President Obama announced that he will withdraw 34,000 of the 66,000 troops still in Afghanistan within a year. However, the US is still negotiating a SOFA Status of Forces agreement that would govern any troops that would remain after the end of 2014 when the mission is to end.
There is already a Strategic Partnership Agreement governing relations until 2024. The number of troops to remain has yet to be determined and estimates range from 15,,000 down to zero. If no immunity can be arranged for remaining US troops that would produce the zero situation. The Afghan defense department praised Obama's withdrawal announcement claiming that the Afghans were prepared to take over the defense of the country.
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