New Claims Of Afghan Civilians Killed In US-led Strikes
August 30, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP)–Two senior Afghan police officers alleged Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition killed five civilians in air strikes aimed at Taliban insurgents, but the force denied causing any civilian casualties.
The claims come after the coalition was also accused of killing more than 90 people, including 60 children, in air strikes in the west a week ago – a charge it denies.
“Five civilians, including two women and a child, were killed in an air strike by coalition forces early this morning,” Sayed Sakhidad, criminal investigation police chief for Kapisa province outside Kabul, told AFP.
Five Taliban were also killed, he said.
Kapisa’s deputy provincial police chief Abdul Hamid Hakimi also said “five civilians and as many rebels, including a militant commander, were killed in the strikes.”
He gave the names of the civilian dead, whom he said were from the same family and included two females and three males, one of them 17 years old.
The coalition dismissed the allegations. “There were no civilian casualties in that incident,” a spokesman said.
The coalition said in a statement earlier that “several militants” were killed in the operation in Kapisa’s Nijrab district, which started Friday.
Troops were looking for a Taliban commander involved in smuggling weapons and attacks on foreign soldiers when they came under attack from a compound, the coalition said.
The troops then ordered militants to leave the compound.
“Several women and children exited the compound and were moved to a safe area at which time coalition forces again came under AK-47 and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire,” the statement said.
“Coalition force responded with precision air strikes, killing several militants.”
Allegations of civilian casualties are difficult to verify.
Investigations teams from the United Nations and Afghan government have said more than 90 civilians were killed in the western province of Herat a week ago in what would be one of the deadliest incidents in the past seven years.
But the coalition rejects the number, admitting though that five civilians were killed.
Kapisa, where French troops have recently deployed to reinforce U.S. soldiers, has seen an uptick in unrest, as has much of Afghanistan, despite the presence of nearly 70,000 international soldiers in the fight against rising extremism.