Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Afghanistan's capital Sunday. They were angered by the alleged killing of civilians last month by a NATO rocket strike. Meanwhile, a bomb attack against an Afghan government official has killed five children in the country's southern Kandahar province.
Chanting anti US slogans and carrying banners with pictures of civilians they say were killed by a NATO strike in southern Afghanistan, the protestors marched toward the presidential palace. Ajab Khan was among them.
"We strongly condemn American forces attacks on innocent people of Afghanistan in different provinces," said Ajab Khan. "They came here for human rights protection but vice versa there are attacks on innocent people and they have killed several people in Afghanistan."
President Hamid Karzai's office issued a statement saying an investigation by Afghan intelligence determined that a NATO rocket did slam into the village of Rigi in Helmand Province. The US led command says a joint NATO-Afghan investigation had revealed no evidence of civilians killed or injured.
Those who took part in Sunday's protest said certain civilians had been killed. This protester gave her name as Samia.
"We have been witnessing that American troops and NATO troops have been bombing different provinces of Afghanistan and they have killed thousands of innocent Afghans," said Samia. "They came under the name of freedom, democracy and human rights, which is a false thing that they say, they are doing something against that. We haven't seen freedom or human rights or democracy in Afghanistan ."
Civilian casualties by international forces have become a major source of friction between President Karzai and international partners.
The United Nations reports almost 2,500 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, a 14 percent jump over the previous year, making 2009 the deadliest year since they began they began collecting those figures. However, the UN also says the Taliban are responsible for most civilian deaths.