News / Asia

More Afghan Civilians Dead; US, NATO Commander Addresses Elders

NATO officials in Afghanistan are investigating the latest deaths of civilians caused by an air strike and a clash with insurgents in the southern as well as eastern parts of the country. The probe comes as the U.S commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan has assured a traditional assembly of Afghan leaders his troops are making utmost efforts to avoid civilian casualties in what he described as "a difficult war".

NATO says its forces carried out an air strike Monday night on a compound in the district of Nahr-e-Saraj in southern Helmand province after coming under fire from insurgents hiding inside.  NATO officials say four civilians, including two women and a child died in the airstrike.

It says the troops came to know about the presence of civilians, only after they entered the compound. NATO says that bodies of four suspected male insurgents were also found inside.

The second incident occurred in the eastern Kapisa province where a clash between NATO troops and Taliban insurgents wounded four children. One of the children died of wounds.

Both incidents are being investigated to determine whether NATO forces killed civilians.

Addressing a big gathering of tribal elders, religious scholars and political leaders from across Afghanistan in Kabul Tuesday, General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the country, acknowledged his forces sometimes make mistakes and bring harm to civilians.

"When such unfortunate events occur we quickly investigate what happened and we admit our mistakes. While we strive to never bring harm to any civilian this is a difficult war," said McChrystal.  "But the insurgents who place improvised explosive devices on your roads, who fire rockets into your neighborhoods, who use your women and children as human shields, they demonstrate everyday their disrespect for human life and never take responsibility or apologize for their actions," he said.

Last year, General McChrystal issued strict guidelines to limit air strikes against militants to avoid civilian casualties. But in Tuesday's address to the political gathering in the Afghan capital, the American commander said that too many local and coalition forces have also lost their lives or have been badly wounded while defending Afghans against suicide and other terrorist attacks.

"We are humans like you. We struggle here with you far from our homes and our families sharing your concerns about the challenges facing your communities," he explained. "We are proud to have paid in our blood as you have paid in yours to protect you from those who threaten Afghan security and to rob your children of a better future.  We share this responsibility with you and feel the pain it comes with any loss of innocent life," said McChrystal.

The issue of civilian casualties in the fight against Taliban insurgents has been a source of tension between the Afghan government and NATO-led international forces. The latest such incidents have taken place amid a war of words between President Hamid Karzai and U.S officials. Critics say that the political tension could undermine international efforts to defeat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The Afghan president in a recent speech to lawmakers is reported to have threatened to join the Taliban if foreigners do not stop meddling in Afghanistan.

Washington has described Mr. Karzai's comments as troubling and has urged him to carefully choose his words. The State Department spokesman has warned such comments could undercut U.S support for the Afghan mission.

President Karzai in his statement also accused the United Nations and international community of perpetrating election fraud in last year's presidential polls to try to tarnish his victory. U.N and U.S officials have rejected the charges, which many believe are meant to blame outsiders for Afghanistan's internal troubles, including growing corruption in the government departments.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs