Afghanistan: US kills more civilians

From page 5, below the fold, of the New York Times, Aug. 25:

8 Killed in Raid by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

KABUL — Eight civilians, including a child, were killed in an operation by American forces in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, an Afghan police official said. United States forces acknowledged killing a child and injuring a woman but said the seven men also killed were “Qaeda facilitators” who had opened fire on them as they approached a compound.

The Afghan government has sent a team to investigate the killings, said Abdul Sabour Allah Yar, deputy police chief of Kunar, the province where the raid took place. He said the men killed were elders who had gathered in the house to resolve a family dispute. Four other civilians were arrested in the raid, he said.

A spokesman for United States forces in Afghanistan, Col. Tom Collins, said the forces were conducting an early morning operation against a compound housing “suspected terrorists” to capture a “known Al Qaeda facilitator.”

“Seven suspected Al Qaeda facilitators were killed during the operation, including we believe, the lead facilitator,” Colonel Collins said. “There were two civilian casualties during the operation.” No American or Afghan soldiers were wounded in the operation, he said.

“Credible intelligence linked the targeted individual to suspected terrorist activities and attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Kunar Province,” Colonel Collins said at a news briefing in Kabul. He said weapons and ammunition had been found in the compound but he did not provide details on how the people inside were linked to Al Qaeda.

Colonel Collins said the child who was killed was 10 to 12 years old. Mr. Yar said the child was 10.

Mr. Yar said the local government district chief had informed him that the men killed were civilians and elders of two families. He said that judging from his own conversation with American commanders, they had been wrongly informed that the meeting was a Qaeda gathering.

He also said the provincial authorities had not been told of the operation, something President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly requested in an effort to avoid civilian casualties.

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