Afghan president accuses NATO of destroying 4,000 trees
Afghan President Hamid Karzai Monday accused the NATO-led military forces of cutting down up to 4,000 trees in the southern province of Ghazni, DPA reported.
"According to reports, the foreign forces have recently cut down between 3,000 to 4,000 trees in an area between Khani Baba and Band-e-Sarda villages," the presidential palace said.
Karzai said the foreign troops had to stop, as their actions were a "crime against public property of Afghanistan," the statement added.
Sunset Belinsky, a NATO spokeswoman, said the alliance was aware of the allegation and added that it was "looking into it."
Zelawar Khan Zahid, the provincial police chief of Ghazni, said he had been informed by the presidential palace, but "local people in the area did not confirm the reports."
Azizullah Poya, the head of the provincial council, also said they received no complaint or reports from local villagers about NATO involvement in the destruction of trees.
A government-appointed commission - which presented its findings to Karzai earlier this month - said the foreign forces had caused more than 100 million dollars in damage to fruit crops and homes in the southern province of Kandahar during a recent operation against the Taliban.
Both NATO and provincial authorities refuted the reports, saying they were "extremely exaggerated." NATO said 1.4-million-dollar payouts had been made across the region over the last two months.
The military said that the payments were compensation for damage after more than 800 claims had been made by locals.
Relations between Karzai and the US-led military forces in Afghanistan have been testy, as the president has repeatedly blamed the foreign troops for civilian casualties that be believe have sapped support for the central government.
Karzai has also accused "foreign countries" of interfering into domestic affairs.