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article imageKarzai miffed as US marines shoot and kill child

By Ken Hanly     Jan 10, 2014 in Politics
Kabul - Karzai has long objected to civilian casualties in US raids. He has insisted they stop along with other demands before he will sign the long-term Bilateral Security Agreement recently agreed to and approved by parliament and a meeting of elders.
The tense relationships between Karzai and the US will be further exacerbated by this new incident in which US marines killed a young child in the southern province of Helmand. Naeem Baloch, the governor of Helmand told Karzai about the shooting on Friday (January 10).
Details of the shooting vary. One report claims the victim was a young Afghan girl as reported by local police and identifies the US troops as marines. The report says the girl was between four and five years old. The marines insist that they were shot at and returned fire according to an assistant police chief in the area Abdullah Chopan. He said: "It’s very likely to have happened because visibility was not good, it was raining and cloudy". Chopan insisted the victim was a girl not a boy as reported in several other articles. The incident happened after a firefight in the area with US forces. Another report says that US troops claim that they mistook the boy for a Taliban militant because of the dusty weather.
Aimal Faizi, presidential spokesperson, identified the victim as a boy: "We condemn the killing of this boy in the strongest terms, We have been calling for the complete end of military operations in residential areas. This demand has not been taken seriously by foreign troops and the result is civilian casualties including women and children."
The NATO coalition in Afghanistan issued a statement that expressed "deepest sympathies" to the family who suffered the loss and vowed to investigate "what happened and why". Faizi noted that a ban on military operations in civilian areas was one of the conditions Karzai had for signing the security agreement. Originally the US demanded that Karzai sign the agreement by the end of 2013 or they would be forced to withdraw all troops. Now they have given him until the end of January this year. Karzai may leave the signing to a new president to be chosen this spring. The present agreement does not run out until the end of 2014 but the US insists it needs the agreement ratified now to plan for the transition. Faizi said: "The ball is the US court, We are waiting for practical steps to be taken to end to these operations and for the launch of a peace process. We believe the US can deliver on these demands."
Another report in Press TV claims that two people including a child were killed in a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan, in the province of Nangarhar.
The US and Afghanistan are also at odds over the planned release by the Afghan government of 72 prisoners the US considers dangerous criminals. While Afghan prisoners at Bagram prison are now supposedly under US jurisdiction the US apparently thinks that it still has the right to determine who is released. Karzai's spokesperson Aimal Faizi however said: "We cannot allow innocent Afghan citizens to be kept in detention for months and years without a trial for no reason at all, We know that unfortunately this has been happening at Bagram, but it is illegal and a violation of Afghan sovereignty."
More about US Afghan relations, Hamid karzai, afghan civilian casualties
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