President Hamid Karzai's brother said Thursday that U.S.-led coalition forces mistakenly killed one of the president's cousins during a raid in southern Afghanistan.
NATO forces stormed 65-year-old Mohammad Karzai's home in the southern city of Kandahar late Wednesday, killing him and detaining his son, according to the president's brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai.
"He was a tribal leader. This was a mistake. He was not the target," said Karzai, who heads the provincial council in Kandahar. The man's son was released early Thursday.
NATO said it was aware of the report but unable to immediately confirm the victim's identity. President Karzai's office had no immediate comment.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the killing "proves the Americans are friends of no one. They kill Taliban because we are against them but they also kill those people who are their supporters or helping the Americans who are here."
It was the latest in a series of allegations that coalition or Afghan security forces were responsible for killing civilians.
Although the Taliban are responsible for the vast majority of killings in Afghanistan, civilian casualties from coalition operations are a major source of strain in relationship between Karzai, his government and the United States. The deaths tend to generate widespread outrage among the population and Karzai has said they will no longer be tolerated.
Before the Wednesday's shooting became public, Karzai had asked the United Nations to pressure NATO to be more careful.
"The continuous killing of civilians is not acceptable to the Afghan people and government. As Afghan president I have a responsibility to protect the lives of the Afghan people," Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.
A U.N. report issued Wednesday said that civilian deaths jumped 15 percent in 2010 to 2,770 from the previous year. The report blamed insurgents for 75 percent of the combat-related killings _ saying they were responsible for 2,080 deaths. Deaths attributed to U.S.-led forces dropped by 26 percent to 440 people despite a large increase in fighting.
U.S. and NATO commander for Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus has said he continues to work to decrease civilian casualties and called civilian deaths at NATO's hands tragic.
Also Thursday, dozens of villagers held a protest in Kandahar city, accusing the police of killing five civilians in a raid overnight in nearby Zhari district. They had the bodies of three men they said were slain by police, and they said two women also were killed.
Local government officials confirmed an incident in Pashmol but said it was a police operation targeting known insurgents and that the men who were killed had fired on the officers.
It is often difficult to distinguish actual civilian deaths from insurgent propaganda in the south, where many villages are loyal to the Taliban.
In northern Afghanistan, Afghan and NATO officials were investigating whether German troops accidentally killed an Afghan woman during a battle in Kunduz province.
Gulamn Mohyuddin, police chief of Chardara district, said the woman appeared to have been killed by a stray bullet Wednesday morning.
But NATO noted that the woman was found nearly a mile (more than 1.3 kilometers) from the area where coalition troops battled insurgents.
Meanwhile, NATO said one of its service members was killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan. The coalition did not provide the nationality or details of how the service member was killed. The death bring to seven the number of coalition troops who have died so far this month.
Associated Press writers Amir Shah and Heidi Vogt contributed to this report from Kabul, Afghanistan.