Afghan leader orders inquiry into US raid that killed 8
Police say victims were civilians, not Al Qaeda fighters
KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation yesterday into the killings of eight people in eastern Afghanistan during a raid that US forces said targeted Al Qaeda members, according to a government statement.
The US military said seven Al Qaeda suspects and a child were killed in Thursday's joint American-Afghan operation in eastern Kunar Province's Shigal district. Police said the victims were civilians, not Al Qaeda members.
The statement said Karzai had ordered a ``thorough investigation" into the killings, including the death of a 10-year-old child. Kunar's governor and local lawmakers have gone a fact-finding trip to the area.
``While saddened by the loss of civilian lives, the president is awaiting the conclusion of the investigation," the statement said.
There have been numerous other incidents of civilians killed in coalition operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. In April, clashes between insurgents and US, Canadian, and British troops in southern Afghanistan left 13 civilians dead.
The US-led coalition and NATO say they go to extreme lengths to avoid inflicting civilian casualties and accuse insurgents of blending in with local populations while attacking foreign and Afghan soldiers.
Karzai, who depends on the US military to back his weak government, has repeatedly demanded coalition forces take more care when conducting military operations to avoid civilians casualties.
Thursday's raid came a week after coalition aircraft destroyed two trucks used in an insurgent attack that killed an Afghan soldier in southeastern Paktika Province. Afghan officials said 10 border police were killed in the strike.
Karzai quickly condemned coalition forces for that strike, but US officials said they were confident that they had targeted militants and not police.