Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned a U.S. airstrike in western
Afghanistan that some Afghan officials say killed more than 70
civilians on Thursday. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that
the U.S. military disputes the number of civilian casualties and
insists the operation was a successful strike against a wanted Taliban
President Hamid Karzai's office issued a statement
Saturday strongly condemning what it called a "unilateral operation of
Coalition Forces" in the Shindand district of Herat Province.
statement said local political and security officials reported at least
70 people, including women and children were killed in the airstrike.
U.S. military disputes the civilian casualty figures and says troops
called for airstrikes after a group of wanted militants fired on a
joint patrol of coalition and Afghan forces.
spokesman, First Lieutenant Nathan Perry, told VOA the troops were able
to search the compound following the battle to confirm the casualty
He says five civilians, who were believed to be related to the militants, were among the 30 people killed in the strike.
was already a battlefield assessment of this operation," said the
spokesman. "We want to point out that this was an Afghan army
operation. Coalition troops were in support of the Afghan operation.
And after the operation, those troops on the ground were able to do a
battlefield assessment. Not only did they confirm that they killed 25
militants, they also confirmed the main target that they were in
The spokesman said despite the initial
battlefield assessment, U.S.-led coalition forces have launched an
investigation into the airstrike. Afghan officials have also called for
Civilians deaths from U.S. airstrikes are a
contentious issue in Afghanistan and in recent months the Afghan
government has been more assertive in publicly rebuking foreign allied
forces for civilian casualties.
President Karzai said Saturday
that so far, Afghan efforts to stop civilian casualties have not had
"desired outcomes." The president said the government will soon
announce new initiatives for avoiding civilian deaths.
village in Herat where Thursday's airstrike occurred, hundreds of
locals protested Saturday after rejecting offers of food and other aid
from Afghan military troops. Local media reports said some of the
protesters turned violent and soldiers fired on the crowd, injuring