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Report: NATO Night Raids Draw Ire of Afghans

US Marines lie down inside a small patrol base during a pause in an all night mission in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, October 2009. (file photo)

An increasing number of NATO night-time raids on Afghan homes is breeding mistrust and resentment within the Afghan population, according to a new report.

VOA's Ira Mellman spoke with one of the authors of the report. He asked Chis Rogers, Program Officer of the New York based Open Society Foundations about why the study was undertaken.

The New York-based Open Society Foundations and the Liason Office, an Afghanistan based-non-governmental organization, on Monday released a study that says that any gains made by the coalition against the insurgency have been negated by the night raids, which increased five-fold between February 2009 and December 2010.

NATO conducted an average of 19 raids per night from December of last year to March of this year. And the report says that while U.S. and NATO troops have made key improvements in how they conduct the night operations, the practice continues to spark a backlash among the Afghan population.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly criticized night raids targeting insurgents, saying they cause civilian casualties and invade Afghans' privacy. Troops also have been accused of mistreating women during the operations.

NATO spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings said Monday that coalition night raids are conducted in conjunction with Afghan forces and are an effective method of maintaining pressure on insurgents, while minimizing the risk to civilians.

Cummings said NATO will review the report's findings and is open to implementing any recommendations that will improve operations in Afghanistan.

The report acknowledged that new NATO directives have decreased civilian casualties, but that many of the improvements have been undermined by the surge in the number of night raids.

Open Society Foundations was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

There are about 140,000 international troops serving in Afghanistan, with most foreign combat troops set to leave the war-torn country by the end of 2014.

On Monday, NATO said an insurgent attack killed one of its service members in southern Afghanistan.

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