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Afghan Leader Fires 2 Army Commanders for Civilian Deaths


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has fired two senior army commanders over an air strike that he says killed 89 civilians in a remote village in western Afghanistan.

The president issued a decree Sunday dismissing the top army general for western Afghanistan, General Jalandar Shah Behnam, and a commando major, Abdul Jabar, for negligence and concealing facts about Friday's air strike in Herat province.

President Kazai described the joint U.S.-Afghan air strike as "irresponsible and imprecise."

U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan give a lower death toll for the air strike, saying 25 militants and five civilians were killed in an attack on Taliban targets in Herat's Shindand district.

The Afghan Defense Ministry says the raid killed its main target, Taliban commander Mullah Siddiq.

Civilian casualties have been a major source of tension between Mr. Karzai and international forces battling Taliban insurgents.

President Karzai sent a team to Herat province to survey the damage. He said his government also will be announcing initiatives to prevent civilian deaths.

Earlier Sunday, a helicopter chartered by NATO crashed in the eastern province of Kunar, killing at least one person and injuring three others.

NATO said a technical problem likely made the transport helicopter crash shortly after takeoff from a military base. The Taliban said it shot down the helicopter.

Neither claim has been independently verified.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.


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