by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) Feb 18, 2012
A NATO air strike that killed eight young Afghans last week was not coordinated with Afghan police, the interior minister said Saturday, contradicting what the force said after the incident.
The February 8 attack in Kapisa province, where French troops are based, raised concern that it would further deteriorate already strained relations between the Afghan government and its Western allies.
Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, who was questioned by parliament over the incident, said Afghan forces were not involved, denying a previous report by NATO that it was a joint operation.
"We were not involved in that incident, NATO did not coordinate that attack with our police," he told lawmakers.
The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday conceded that eight young men were killed during a recent air strike but insisted they were armed teenagers who posed a "threat" to soldiers.
"We have assigned a delegation to talk to NATO why they didn't inform us of the operation," Mohammadi said, insisting that the number of civilian casualties caused by Afghan and NATO forces had decreased "considerably" due to good coordination, but the Kapisa incident was an exception.
However, a NATO spokesman last week said the operation was jointly conducted with Afghan police in the area.
According to a UN report a record number of civilians were killed in Afghanistan's decade-long war last year -- the fifth straight year the death toll has risen.
A total of 3,021 civilians died -- mostly at the hands of insurgents -- up eight percent from 2,790 in 2010, the UN mission in Afghanistan said in its annual report.
Taliban-led insurgents caused 77 percent of the deaths, up 14 percent from 2010, while pro-government forces were responsible for killing 410 civilians -- 14 percent of the total, the report said.
Another 279 deaths -- nine percent -- could not be attributed to either side.
The report stands in contrast to an upbeat assessment of 2011 as "remarkably successful" by NATO-led forces, who are preparing to withdraw combat troops in 2014 and hand security over to the Afghan government.
Similar strikes in the past have stoked tensions between Kabul and NATO over the civilian death toll.
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US missiles kill 13 in Pakistan: officials
Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) Feb 16, 2012
Two US drone strikes struck Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal badlands on Thursday, killing at least 13 fighters in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, officials said. The aircraft fired missiles hours apart on separate targets in what is considered the premier bastion of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan as the government in Islamabad welcomed the Afghan and Iranian leaders for a ... read more
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