Afghan Investigators: Civilians Killed by Troops
Leader of presidential delegation: Afghan civilians killed by foreign troops
By AMIR SHAH
The Associated Press
The head of a presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in a village in eastern Afghanistan said Wednesday the team has concluded that civilians — including schoolchildren — were killed in an attack by foreign troops last weekend, denying NATO reports that insurgents were the victims.
Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, told The Associated Press by telephone that among the victims discovered in a village house in the Narang district of Kunar province were eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14. A NATO official said initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that the victims were insurgents — all young males.
Civilian deaths are one of the most sensitive issues for foreign troops in Afghanistan, especially now when some additional 37,000 U.S. and NATO troops are being deployed to the war-ravaged country. Several hundred Afghans in neighboring Nangarhar province demonstrated on Wednesday to protest the deaths.
Although far more civilians are killed by the Taliban, those blamed on international forces spark the widespread resentment and undermine the fight against the militants.
"I have talked to the principal of the school in the village and he gave us details about the killed children," Wafa said. "The schoolchildren cannot be al-Qaida. I confirm they are innocent people killed by mistake. I talked to Karzai about the findings."
Wafa said the villagers demanded from the 10-member delegation of government officials and lawmakers that informants "who gave the wrong target to the Americans must be found and punished by a court."
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:30 AM