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AFP, May 10, 2009

Hundreds of students protest Afghan civilian killings

Protestors chanted slogans like 'Death to America' and 'Death to the biggest terrorist', demanding the trial of Americans responsible for the killing of civilians in the air strikes.

Hundreds of people in Afghanistan have held rallies in protest to the recent US air strikes which killed more than 140 civilians west of the country.

Anti-US protest in Kabul
Kabul university students shout anti U.S. slogans during a protest in Kabul May 10, 2009. Several hundreds students from the Kabul university stage a protest against the recent civilian causality in Farah province by the U.S. air strikes, on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters)
(Photos of Bala Baluk tragedy)

KABUL: Hundreds of Kabul University students labelled the United States "the world's biggest terrorist" on Sunday as they protested against US air strikes said to have killed scores of Afghan villagers.

Chanting "Death to America", "Death to the biggest terrorist" and "long live Islam", up to 1,000 protesters marched outside the university to condemn what is believed to be the deadliest such incident in nearly eight years.

Their banners read "The blood of the Farah martyrs will never dry" and "USA is the world's biggest terrorist", an AFP photographer at the scene witnessed.

Another banner demanded that those responsible for the air strikes last week in southwestern Farah province go on trial.

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Student leaders read out a statement condemning civilian casualties from both Taliban attacks and military strikes.

"Our people are fed up with Taliban beheadings and suicide bombings. On the other hand, the massacre of civilians by the American forces is a crime that our people will never forget," it said.

Last year was the deadliest for civilians since the United States led the 2001 invasion that removed the Taliban regime, according to the United Nations, which said that nearly 2,200 were killed, 55 per cent in insurgent attacks.

The students' resolution dismissed US statements of regret for civilian casualties, saying: "You cannot wash (away) the blood of Bala Buluk district martyrs with bizarre words of excuse and sorrow."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that between 125 and 130 civilians, including children and women, were killed in the strikes in Farah's Bala Buluk district on Monday and Tuesday.

One local investigation has said 140 civilians were killed, including 94 girls aged under-18 who had gathered in a compound to take shelter from the fighting.

Some villagers said the strikes hit an area which the Taliban had already left and where there was no fighting.

A joint investigation by the US military and Afghan security forces acknowledged that "a number" of civilians died in the incident, but says it is not clear if they were killed in the air strikes or ground battles.

The killing of civilians in anti-insurgent operations is a main source of friction between Karzai and the tens of thousands of foreign forces deployed here to help his government tackle the Taliban-led fighters.

Tensions peaked in August last year when civilians were killed in US air strikes in the western province of Herat.

Afghan and UN teams said around 90 civilians were killed; the US military said 33 civilians and 22 militants died.

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations, Protest - Views: 9496