NATO insists night raids to continue
KABUL (PAN): Despite renewed objections from President Hamid Karzai, NATO on Monday said US-led forces will increasingly take the lead in night-raids, insisting not a single shot was fired in 85 percent of such operations.
A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said night raids remained the safest form of operations conducted to take insurgent leaders off the battlefield.
Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson said all the raids were being conducted in coordination with Afghan soldiers.
He said civilian casualties remained low during night raids and only one percent civilian casualty could happen.
However, a UN report said the number of civilians killed in violence in Afghanistan rose by 15 percent in the first six months of this year to 1,462, with foreign soldiers blamed for 12 percent of the casualties and militants for 77 percent.
Jacobson said it was "in everybody's interests" to "Afghanise" the night raids as quickly as possible. He said numbers of Afghan special forces were being increased, and that Afghan troops were involved in almost all such operations.
He said President Karzai had asked foreign troops to restrain from entering Afghan houses. "This is exactly the process where Afghanisation sets in," he said.
He said speeding up Afghanisation was in everybody's interests, but they needed time to train the special forces.
The traditional Loya Jirga on November 16 has called for night raids to be Afghan-led. The jirga participants in a declaration insisted civilian houses should not be searched by foreigners, and if needed, Afghans should do the same.
The NATO spokesman also said they would act in compliance with the Jirga recommendation.
On December 17, NATO and Afghan forces raided the house of Paktia Counternarcotics Department head, Hafizullah Ahmadzai, killing his seven-month pregnant wife and injuring his two sisters and two daughters.
Ahmadzai was arrested along with his two sons and then released.
The raid also drew strong criticism from Karzai who asked US forces commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, to stop foreign troops from entering Afghan houses.
In a meeting with Karzai on Sunday, Allen offered his "condolences" over the death.
Also on Sunday, Paktia provincial council members closed their office in protest against the raid.
"We will not reopen the office unless the perpetrators of the raid are handed over to the Afghan government," the council head, Shaista Jan Ahadi, told at a news conference. He said the real culprits were those giving wrong tip offs to foreign soldiers.
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