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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs