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Karzai Condemns Civilian Casualties by NATO Troops

An Afghan man and his son take part in a protest in Kabul, March 6, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told the commander of U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, that civilian casualties by foreign troops are "no longer acceptable."

Mr. Karzai spoke Sunday in Kabul during a meeting with his security advisers which the general attended.

During the meeting Petraeus again apologized for the deaths of nine Afghan boys in a NATO airstrike last Tuesday in northeast Kunar Province. But Mr. Karzai said the apology was "not enough" and that the civilian casualties at the hands of coalition forces are "the main cause of strained relations between the United States and Afghanistan."

The killing of the nine children, who were collecting firewood when they were attacked, sent hundreds into the streets of the Afghan capital earlier on Sunday where they shouted "Death to America."

Also on Sunday, 12 Afghan civilians were killed when their vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Among the dead were five children.

Mr. Karzai immediately condemned the bombing, which took place in Paktika Province. He said it violates "all principles of Islam." The U.S. embassy in Kabul also condemned the attack, calling it a "brutal terrorist act that demonstrates the insurgents have no respect for human life."

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