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PAN, April 23, 2010

Killing of Five Afghan Civilians by US Troops Sparks Protest in Logar

Student Din Muhammad, who participated in the protest, accused the American soldiers of killing innocents

By Maqsood Azizi

Hundreds of angry residents took to the streets against the killing of five civilians in a predawn US-led coalition operation in the central province of Logar on Friday.

But the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) called the dead militants, who were shot dead in a fierce gunbattle with the combined force. Also, two US service members died of wounds suffered in the firefight.

Around 500 dwellers, chanting death to the US, blocked the Logar-Gardez highway to denounce the killings in the Kolengar neighbourhood on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Pul-i-Alam.

Afghans protest killings by US troops
Afghan protesters shout anti-American slogans during a protest in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 12, 2010. International troops opened fire on a bus carrying Afghan civilians early Monday, killing four people and setting off anti-American protests in a southern city that is a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency. (Photo: AP)

The protestors, shouting slogans against the Karzai government for failing to protect ordinary Afghans, torched a container carrying supplies for the coalition forces. The driver, however, managed to escape.

The busy highway was blocked for an hour. Before being dispersed as a result of fire in the air by security forces, the demonstrators asked journalists to convey their outrage to the government and the international community.

Student Din Muhammad, who participated in the protest, accused the American soldiers of killing innocents. He warned the residents would rise against the foreign troops if the did not stop killing the defenceless masses.

Earlier in the day, the provincial police chief told Pajhwok Afghan News five men were killed and three others wounded, as the houses of Mullah Abdul Wali and Juma Khan were raided in the Qala-i-Ahangaran area of Kolengar.

Brig. Gen. Ghulam Mustafa Mohseni said Wali and Khan were killed along with their three guests. US forces told him after the operation the men, having links to the Taliban, had been involved in disruptive activities, including the placement of landmines.

The firefight was triggered by an Afghan-ISAF raid on a rebel compound in the Qala-i- Syedan area of Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital, NATO said, adding intelligence indicated insurgent activity at the site.

"Two US service members subsequently died of their wounds suffered in this firefight. No civilians were reported harmed in the operation," the 44-nation force said in a press statement.

But Col. Muhammad Jan Abid, crime branch chief at the police headquarters, said the soldiers conducted the crackdown without any coordination with them. He added the American military suspected Wali alone of having ties to guerrillas. A Taliban suicide attack commander, with ties to the Haqqani network, the third largest militant group in Afghanistan, was among the dead, the ISAF statement added.

A search of the compound led to the recovery of multiple automatic rifles, armour-piercing rounds, explosive materials and blasting caps.

A relative of the victims, Shah Wali, denied the foreign troops were fired on from the houses. The 40-year-old said two of the dead had shops in a local market.

Tribal elder Syed Bilal said the soldiers ringed the town throughout the night and blasted their way into the houses at the break of dawn.

A Taliban spokesman, meanwhile, told Pajhwok over the telephone the victims had no links to the rebel movement. They were residents of the village, Zabihullah Mujahid said, contradicting the US claim.

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations, Protest - Views: 13653



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