Thursday, November 6, 2008


New York Times - Tensions between American forces and the Afghan government over civilian casualties from coalition air strikes spiked again on Wednesday with a report by Afghan officials that a missile from a United States aircraft killed 40 civilians and wounded 28 others at a wedding party in the southern province of Kandahar. Afghan officials said casualties from the air strike on Monday included women and children. The United States military command said it was conducting an urgent investigation with the Afghan Interior Ministry. Although the command's statement made no mention of a missile strike or any death toll, it appeared to acknowledge the possibility that noncombatants had been killed. . .

The episode in Kandahar followed others this year in which American airstrikes in some of the war's most hotly contested battle zones killed civilians. The report of the missile strike, in Shah Wali Kot, a rural district north of the city of Kandahar, prompted a renewed protest from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who referred to the episode at a news conference on Wednesday that was called to congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his election victory.

'The fight against terrorism cannot be won by bombardment of our villages,' Mr. Karzai said. 'My first demand from the U.S. president, when he takes office, would be to end civilian casualties in Afghanistan and take the war to places where there are terrorist nests and training centers.'

In one of the worst cases of civilian deaths by an American strike this year, an attack aimed at a meeting of Taliban insurgent leaders on Aug. 22 killed at least 33 civilians, according to a Pentagon inquiry. Other investigators said the numbers were much higher. According to an Afghan parliamentary investigation, an airstrike in July in the eastern province of Nangarhar also struck a wedding, killing 47 civilians, including the bride.


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