Aid groups blame US for civilian deaths

Press TV, June 20, 2007

International aid groups say goodwill toward foreign forces is eroding across Afghanistan in the wake of mounting civilian casualties.

A group representing 94 foreign and Afghan aid agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE International, laid much of the blame for civilian deaths on US actions, contending indiscriminate use of force is causing the death of innocents, according to AP.

"Such operations have frequently been carried out by forces outside NATO command, often American forces in Operation Enduring Freedom, and sometimes in conjunction with Afghan forces," the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief said in a statement on Tuesday.

The aid group said foreign and Afghan troops were responsible for the deaths of at least 230 civilians this year, including 60 women and children. Among them, it said, were nine people killed in a 'botched house raid,' dozens in airstrikes and 14 'for simply driving or walking too close to foreign military personnel or vehicles.'

"Excessive use of force and abusive raids and searches are undermining support not just for foreign and Afghan militaries but those involved in humanitarian and development work," statement added.

The complaint followed reports of dozens of civilian deaths in recent days during fierce fighting in Uruzgan, a key southern province. Insurgents also pushed Afghan police out of a remote district in neighboring Kandahar province.

Afghan officials reported dozens of civilians killed in the Chora district of Uruzgan province, where hundreds of Taliban fighters assaulted police posts Saturday, drawing a counterattack by NATO troops and fighter jets. Fighting continued Tuesday.

US and NATO commanders say their forces do all they can to avoid civilians but noncombatant casualties have fed public anger toward President Hamid Karzai's government and the foreign soldiers supporting it.

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