NATO retrains troops after Afghan civilian deaths

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2011 9:13 AM
NATO retrains troops after Afghan civilian deaths

The top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan has ordered retraining of coalition forces after seven civilians were killed in a military operation last week in the southern part of the country, coalition officials said Tuesday.

U.S. Gen. John Allen sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai saying NATO was aggressively investigating the deaths.

On Nov. 23, six children and an adult were killed in a NATO airstrike in Zhari district of Kandahar province. Allen said then that the incident occurred when coalition forces were responding to offensive actions by insurgents.

"I have issued direct orders for all units to conduct retraining on our methods of employing force against insurgents while protecting Afghan civilians," Allen wrote, according to a statement released by Karzai's office, adding that the unites have until Dec. 5 to confirm that the orders have been carried out.

German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a coalition spokesman in Afghanistan, said the incident that resulted in the civilian deaths was still being investigated.

A recent report by the United Nations said the number of Afghan civilians killed in war-related violence rose 15 percent in the first half of this year. The U.N. said 1,462 Afghan civilians lost their lives in the first six months of the year, compared with 1,271 in the same period of 2010.

Karzai has long complained about the number of civilians killed in crossfire during military operations against militants, where it is sometimes difficult to distinguish insurgents from civilians.

In an incident early Tuesday, Afghan and coalition troops captured an al-Qaida operative in Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said. The coalition said two individuals who displayed hostility toward the joint force were killed and a third suspected insurgent was detained.

Gulam Sakhi, a relative of the two killed, claimed they were not insurgents.

"They were ordinary laborers," he said. "We have no link with al-Qaida."

Separately, a tribal leader and former jihad commander was shot and killed by Taliban militants in eastern Afghanistan, according to Wardak provincial governor's office.

Milam Aziziullah, who also was a member of the Jaghatu district council, was killed as he was driving home Monday afternoon.

"Azizullah's death is a big loss for Wardak people," Wardak provincial governor Mohammad Halim Fedawi said, noting he fought against Soviet forces "and was at the service of the local people as a tribal leader."

In the north, NATO said a coalition vehicle struck a roadside bomb Wednesday in Baghlani Jadid district of Baghlan province. The explosion damaged a coalition vehicle, but there were no fatalities. NATO did not disclose the nationality of the troops involved, but local police officials said two German troops were wounded in the blast.