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Civilian deaths blamed on lack of coordination

Civilian deaths blamed on lack of coordination

Mar 09, 2011 - 20:23

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Civilian deaths in NATOinfo-icon-led airstrikes were a result of inadequate coordination with national security forces, the Afghan chief of army staff said on Wednesday.

"However, international troops are conducting ground operations in consultation with their Afghan counterparts," Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi told the lower house of Parliament.

Along with Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi and National Directorate of Security (NDSinfo-icon) deputy chief, Abdul Qayum Katawazai, he was summoned to the house to brief lawmakers on recent civilian casualties in NATO-led airstrikes.

Seventy people, including womeninfo-icon and children, lost their lives in two separate air raids by foreign troops in eastern Kunar province in less than two weeks.

The United Nations said on Wednesday civilian deaths rose to a new high last year, with Talibaninfo-icon and other insurgents responsible for 75 percent of the fatalities. 

In its annual report on the conflict's civilian toll, the worldinfo-icon body said 2,777 civilians were killed in 2010, the highest number in the past five years, showing a 15 percent increase.

Karimi said "serious talks" were underway with foreign forces on reaching an agreement on greater coordination in airstrikes. "A major problem is that they don't listen to us and we don't listen to them.

"But the issue is being discussed," he added. Afghan security forces would try their best to reduce civilian casualties, the general said.

Mohammadi told the house that the security had improved this year, despite challenges. "Talks with the Taliban, proposed US military bases and the security transition to Afghan lead are issues affecting the situation."

Police coordination with international forces had also improved, the minister said.

The NDS chief said insurgents had lost the courage to fight security forces directly which was why they targeted civilians.

Katawazai cited the attack on a private bank in Jalalabad as an example of the Taliban's attacks against the common people. He claimed intelligence operatives foiled four suicide attack plans last month.

The security officials were grilled by MPs on civilian casualties, which saw a spike in recent weeks. An air raid in Kunar, which killed nine children, remained a hot topic during Wednesday's session.

The minister said top NATO and US commander, Gen. David Petraeus, who personally apologised for the incident, had removed two air commanders responsible for the raid.

An MP from Farah, Mohammad Sarwar Osmani, said all  foreigners who killed innocent Afghans should be tried. He also sought the UN's help, saying the killers should be declared war criminals.


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