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Demonstration against NATO raid turns deadly

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-18

Ten people died and 50 were injured in a Wednesday protest in response to a Tuesday-night NATO raid in northern Afghanistan, which killed four. Local police say the raid victims were civilians, while NATO-led forces claim they were armed insurgents.

REUTERS - Ten people were killed and 50 wounded in violent protests on Wednesday against the killing of two men and two women in a night-time raid by foreign forces in north Afghanistan, the head of the provincial hospital said.

Local police and residents say the four people killed late on Tuesday night in the usually peaceful northern town of Taloqan were civilians, while NATO-led forces said they were armed insurgents.

In male-dominated Afghanistan, female fighters are very rarely found among insurgent ranks, and the few who have been identified are mostly foreigners. A NATO spokesman said he did not know the nationalities of the dead women.

Early on Wednesday, a crowd of angry demonstrators armed with spades and axes took to the streets of Taloqan in a protest against the raid, chanting ‘death to America’, and ‘death to Karzai’, and tried to storm a foreign military base nearby.
 
Police and Afghan security guards opened fire to disperse the crowd, which police chief Noori estimated at 3,000 people, after the violence mounted.
 
“There is no more room in the hospital, it is already packed with wounded,” Hassan Baseej, head of the provincial hospital, told Reuters. He added that most of the casualties had gunshot wounds.
 
Civilian casualties are a major source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, and complicate efforts to win support from ordinary Afghans for an increasingly unpopular war.   
 
General David Petraeus, the commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, has stepped up night raids since taking over last year, despite calls from Karzai for night raids to be banned.   
 
Fighters or civilians?
 
Takhar provincial police chief Noori, who lives near the site of the night-time raid in Taloqan, said there were no insurgents in the area and the dead were not fighters.      
 
“I strongly condemn this brutal act which only killed civilians,” Noori told Reuters by telephone from Takhar, adding that the dead were all Afghans. He said the raid was carried out based on false intelligence.
 
“This will only create distance between ordinary people, the government and its international partners,” he said.
 
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a joint force of Afghan and ISAF troops killed four insurgents, including two armed females, while targeting a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
 
“A woman wearing a chest rack and armed with an AK-47 rifle attempted to engage the force. The security force gave numerous verbal warnings, but when the armed female pointed her weapon at them, she was subsequently killed,” ISAF said in the statement.
 
“Shortly after, a woman armed with a pistol rushed out of the targeted compound and displayed hostile intent by pointing her pistol at the security force. The security force engaged the female resulting in her death,” the statement added.
 
Mahroof Shah, who lives close to the house which was raided by the troops, said soldiers descended into the house from four helicopters and started shooting.
 
“We were all very scared and children were screaming and crying,” he told Reuters.
 
The incident comes after a week in which NATO troops killed three young Afghan civilians.
 
Foreign troops killed a 10-year old girl and wounded four other children when responding to insurgent fire in eastern Kunar on Monday, the provincial governor said.
 
On Saturday, ISAF said its troops mistakenly killed a 15-year-old boy during an operation with Afghan forces to capture a Taliban insurgent in eastern Nangarhar province. 
 
ISAF also apologised for the death of a teenage woman and an Afghan policeman last Wednesday during a joint raid by Afghan and foreign troops on a compound in Nangarhar.  

 

Date created : 2011-05-18

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