‘‘In a country like Afghanistan where you don’t have heavy artillery and you don’t have air forces to support soldiers on the ground, how will it be possible to defeat an enemy that knows the area well and can hide anywhere?’’ he asked.
‘‘There must be air support to help all those ground forces on the battlefield.’’
The U.N. has said the number of civilian deaths and injuries attributed to foreign and Afghan forces, including airstrikes, has declined as both groups strengthened policies to protect civilians, but it also expressed concern there could be an uptick as the summer fighting season approaches.
Local Afghan officials claim five boys, four women and one man were killed in the bombardment. Four insurgents also were reported killed, but Karzai said that did not justify the loss of so many civilian lives. He said the public had complained not only about foreign forces but about Afghans as well.
‘‘The people must not be afraid of you,’’ Karzai told the military audience. ‘‘They must feel safe when they see you in their areas and villages.’’
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.
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