Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Provincial officials report 51 civilians killed in fighting in western Afghanistan

Provincial officials report 51 civilians killed in fighting in western Afghanistan

Provincial officials reported Wednesday that 51 villagers including women and children were killed in recent fighting in western Afghanistan, but the U.S.-led coalition said it had no reports of civilian deaths.
President Hamid Karzai reiterated Wednesday the need for international forces to prevent such casualties, saying they were no longer acceptable nor understandable.
Civilian deaths have deepened Afghans' distrust of international forces and of the U.S.-backed government as they try to combat a resurgent Taliban militia _ itself accused of indiscriminate attacks that often claim civilian lives.
The coalition says two military operations, including airstrikes, conducted between Friday and Sunday by U.S. and Afghan forces in Herat province's Zerkoh Valley killed 136 suspected Taliban _ the deadliest fighting in Afghanistan since January.
The bloodshed sparked angry anti-U.S. protests this week by villagers, and Mohammad Homayoun Azizi, chief of the Herat provincial council, said two council members who visited the area reported to him that 51 civilians were killed.
The officials were part of a high-level delegation including lawmakers, police and intelligence officials who investigated the incident.
Azizi said the 51 bodies were buried in three different locations and included women and children. The dead included 12 relatives of a man named Jamal Mirzai, he said.
"People say the coalition troops should cooperate with the government, including Afghan forces. They should also be careful in civilian areas," Azizi said.
Herat regional police commander Akram, who goes by one name, said the delegation had also reported to Herat's military council on Wednesday there were 51 civilian deaths, including 18 children and women and eight people listed as missing.
A separate group of U.N. officials was in the region to investigate. They were focusing on the "possible displacement of people and possible indiscriminate use of force," said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
He did not have further details on the U.N.'s findings.
Sgt. Dean Welch, a spokesman for the coalition, said Wednesday its units were still operating in Zerkoh Valley, but have no reports of civilian casualties.
In a statement on Monday, it said coalition and Afghan forces had destroyed seven Taliban positions in the valley and killed 87 fighters during a 14-hour engagement Sunday, including an airstrike. Another 49 Taliban were killed two days earlier by a combination of gunfire and an airstrike. One U.S. soldier was also killed, the coalition said.
Karzai said he has held weekly and monthly meetings with the international community seeking to solve the problem of civilian casualties during raids on homes and in villages.
"The intention is very good in these operations to fight terrorism. Sometimes mistakes have been made as well, but five years on, it is very difficult for us to continue to accept civilian casualties," Karzai told reporters.
"We can no longer accept civilian casualties the way they occur," he said. "It is not understandable anymore."
Also Wednesday, university students burned a U.S. flag during a demonstration in eastern Nangarhar province, over the killings of five people, including a woman and teenage girl, during a coalition-led raid at the weekend.
It was the fourth-straight day of anti-America protests in the country.
A recent Human Rights Watch report found that NATO and U.S. operations, including the use of airstrikes and heavy weapons, killed at least 230 civilians last year. However most of the 900 civilian fatalities during 2006 were from militant action, it said.


Updated : 2021-06-14 12:47 GMT+08:00