Reuters, December 31, 2006

Afghans protest killing of two by US-led troops

The protesters took to the streets of the provincial capital, Jalalabad

JALALABAD - Scores of people protested in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday over the killing of two civilians and the arrest of three by U.S.-led troops, officials and witnesses said.

NATO victim in Lashkargah
Photos from NATO bomb victims by Maso Notarianni at the Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah

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The governor of Nangarhar province, Gul Agha Sherzai, told reporters troops from a U.S.-led force killed the pair in a pre-dawn raid. Three people had been detained, he said.

"The raid took place without consultation with us," Sherzai said.

A spokesman for the U.S. military said he was not aware of any such incident.

Civilian deaths are a sensitive matter for the Western-backed government and the foreign troops supporting it.

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged foreign troops to do all they can to avoid civilian casualties while battling and hunting for militants.

The protesters took to the streets of the provincial capital, Jalalabad, calling on the government stop foreign troops carrying out operations without the consent of Afghan authorities and village elders.

The demonstration was peaceful.

More than 40,000 foreign soldiers are in Afghanistan trying to defeat a Taliban-led insurgency and ensure enough security for development to get going.

This year has been the bloodiest since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.

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