Foreign forces kill nine Afghan policemen in west, says official (Afghanistan)

KABUL, Afghanistan (Agencies): Nato said Sunday that its forces accidentally killed at least four civilians in eastern Afghanistan, while an official in the nation's west said foreign troops used air strikes against Afghan police, killing nine.


The reported civilian and police deaths could damage popular support for the Afghan government as well as for foreign forces operating here. President Hamid Karzai has pleaded with the US and other nations fighting resurgent militants to avoid civilian casualties. Nato's International Security Assistance Force said it was investigating whether three other civilians also were killed Saturday night in the Barmal district of Paktika province when its troops fired two mortar rounds that landed nearly half a mile (1 kms) short of their target. The alliance said it was providing medical aid to four civilians who were wounded.

"ISAF deeply regrets this accident, and an investigation as to the exact circumstances of this tragic event is now under way," it said in a statement. On the other side of the war-torn country in Farah province, a convoy of foreign forces showed up in Anar Dara district near the Iranian border and clashed with Afghan police, killing nine of them, said provincial Deputy Governor Younus Rasuli.

He said the foreign troops had not informed local officials they were coming, and the police thought they were enemy fighters. The two sides fought from about midnight until 4 am Sunday, and the foreign forces used airstrikes, Rasuli said. The US-led coalition said it was investigating the report. It said its forces, along with Afghan troops, had retaliated in defense against "a non-uniformed hostile force." "The combined patrol signaled their status as coalition forces, but continued to receive fire," a military statement said. "Coalition forces then returned small arms fire and engaged the enemy with precision close air support."

Separately, a mine exploded under a civilian vehicle in Gereshk district in the southern province of Helmand on Sunday, killing three children and wounding four other people, said provincial police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal. Human rights and journalists' groups lashed out at the United States on Sunday for holding an Afghan journalist without charge and pushed for his immediate release.

The 22-year-old Jawed Ahmad, who worked for four years for Canadian network CTV, was detained last October by US forces outside a US military base in the southern province of Kandahar, his brother Seddiq Ahmad told a news conference.
Ahmad said prior to joining the network, Jawed served as a translator for US Special Forces in Kandahar, a hotbed of Taleban insurgents.

Barbara Olshansky, litigation and advocacy director for the US-based International Justice Network, said her mission was not only to condemn Jawed's detention, but "the entire United States' policy surrounding the seizure, detention and killing of journalists around the world". "The United States claims to be sowing the seeds of democracy ... and at the same time undermining those very nascent efforts by putting journalists in jail," Olshansky, who is the lead counsel on Jawed's case, told the same news conference.

Von: 21.07.2008,

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