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UN Calls for New Afghan Strategy to Protect Civilians


The U.N. special representative to Afghanistan has called on international forces to revise a military strategy with the Afghan government to include procedures that will better safeguard civilians.

U.N. envoy Kai Eide said Wednesday Afghan and international forces should coordinate on security issues, including the detention of suspected militants and the use of air strikes.

He said the revision should also codify procedures for military searches of civilian homes to make Afghan troops the first to enter during searches.

His comments came as Afghan police and U.S. troops killed three insurgents with links to al-Qaida during an operation in eastern Khost province. But witnesses said all of those killed were civilians.

Military officials said security forces also captured several other suspected militants, including a man believed to be in direct contact with al-Qaida leaders outside Afghanistan.

Also Wednesday, the deputy commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, said a U.S. proposal to send more troops to the country will eventually lead to a decrease in violence. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to increase troop levels after he takes office in January.

In another development, the United Nations announced plans to double its budget of around $80 million for its mission in Afghanistan next year. The world body said the move will allow it to increase its staff in the country from 1,500 people to 2,000.

Separately, Britain's Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers died during an operation in southern Helmand province Wednesday. The ministry said the soldier was killed by enemy fire in the Nad-e-Ali district.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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