Afghan villagers accuse NATO forces of killing four civilians
Hundreds of villagers closed the main road linking the Afghan capital to the country's south Thursday to protest the deaths of four civilians that they said were killed by NATO forces, DPA reported.
NATO said it killed four insurgents, including a teenager, in an operation in southern province of Ghazni Wednesday night.
The villagers in the province's Qarabagh district took to the streets Thursday morning and carried the bodies to the district administration headquarters.
The demonstrators, who were chanting anti-government and anti-US slogans, claimed that the dead men were civilians and had no links with the Taliban.
"The oppressors killed Abdullah and two of his sons and another man who is his neighbour last night," Abdul Haleem Jan, one of the protestors told German Press Agency dpa by phone.
He said Abdullah was working as a watchman for a private mobile phone company, while his neighbour was a taxi driver.
The demonstrators closed the Kabul-Kandahar highway for hours before local authorities promised them to investigate the incident, Abdul Jabar, another villager said.
A NATO statement said the operation was conducted to "capture a high-level Taliban commander who was known to direct attacks against Afghan and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces, train Taliban members and facilitate the movement of foreign fighters as well as weapons in the area."
"While conducting the operation, a young man estimated to be 15 years old displayed hostile intent and grabbed the weapon of a service member. He was shot and killed," it said, adding that during the operation, 11 women and 24 children were protected.
Civilian casualties at the hands of international forces have become a delicate issue in Afghanistan. Officials have said that mounting deaths have sapped public support for the government and the more than 110,000 foreign troops in the country.
According to a latest report by United Nations, more 2,400 civilians were killed by Taliban and NATO-led troops in 2009, the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the ouster of the Taliban regime some eight years ago.