Troops kill four women, child in Afghanistan: force
August 8, 2008
KABUL (AFP) – US-led coalition troops “inadvertently” killed four women and a child in a gun battle in Afghanistan, while an international soldier died separately in a new bomb attack, the force said Friday.
The civilians were killed Thursday when troops went to an area of central Ghazni province less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Kabul to find a Taliban militant alleged to be coordinating foreign rebels, it said.
“As coalition forces approached a compound, they were threatened by several armed militants,” a statement said.
“The force responded with small-arms fire, killing the militants and inadvertently killing four women and a child located with them,” it said.
Several alleged militants were killed and three detained, the coalition said.
“The coalition regrets the death of these non-combatants,” spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Rumi Nielson-Green said in the statement. “We are planning to conduct a full and thorough investigation.”
There has been a series of incidents in the past weeks in which civilians have been killed in international military action against Taliban and other insurgents trying to bring down the Western-backed government.
On July 27, Canadian soldiers in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) killed two children after opening fire on a car that did not slow down near a military patrol in the southern province of Kandahar.
The day before, ISAF troops killed four civilians in similar circumstances in neighbouring Helmand.
Also last month, the coalition admitted killing eight civilians in an air strike against militants in the southwestern province of Farah.
It and ISAF are meanwhile investigating official Afghan reports that 64 civilians were killed in two strikes in northeastern Afghanistan early in the same month.
The mounting civilian casualties in international military operations seven years after the United States sent troops to Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government angers Afghans and threatens to turn them against the soldiers.
The United Nations said in June that nearly 700 civilians had lost their lives in Afghanistan this year, about two-thirds in militant attacks and about 255 in military operations.
The death toll of international soldiers is also climbing.
A coalition soldier was killed in western Afghanistan Friday when a bomb struck a convoy, the force said, giving no details including the nationality of the troop.
The new death took to 153 the number of international soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year, most of them in attacks or fighting, according to an AFP tally. Seven US soldiers were killed in bomb attacks last week.
There are nearly 70,000 international soldiers in Afghanistan to help the country fight an insurgency led by the extremist Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001.
The past three months have been the deadliest for international forces in Afghanistan since 2001 with more international soldiers dying in this country than in Iraq.