Why does this keep happening?
Regional officials said Wednesday that 51 villagers, some of them women and children, were killed in recent fighting in western Afghanistan. The U.S.-led coalition said it had no reports of civilian deaths.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai repeated his demands that more be done to prevent civilian casualties during military operations, saying he has been meeting regularly with officials of coalition and NATO forces trying to solve the problem.
“The intention is very good in these operations to fight terrorism. Sometimes mistakes have been made as well, but five years on, it is very difficult for us to continue to accept civilian casualties,” Karzai told reporters.
“We can no longer accept civilian casualties the way they occur,” he added. “It is not understandable anymore.”
The U.S.-led coalition said two military operations conducted between Friday and Sunday by U.S. and Afghan forces in western Herat province’s Zerkoh Valley killed 136 suspected Taliban — the deadliest fighting in Afghanistan since January.
The bloodshed set off anti-U.S. protests by villagers, and Mohammad Homayoun Azizi, chief of the Herat provincial council, said two council members who visited the area reported to him that 51 civilians were killed.
The officials were part of a high-level delegation including lawmakers, police and intelligence officials who investigated the claim.
Azizi said the 51 bodies were buried in three different locations and included women and children. The dead included 12 relatives of a man named Jamal Mirzai, he said.
University students burned a U.S. flag during a demonstration Wednesday in eastern Nangarhar province to protest the deaths of five people, including a woman and teenage girl, during a coalition-led raid over the weekend.
It was the fourth straight day of anti-America protests in the country.
A recent Human Rights Watch report said NATO and U.S. operations, including the use of airstrikes and heavy weapons, killed at least 230 civilians last year.