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Thousands Of Afghans Continue To Protest Civilian Deaths --> President Karzai speaking in Kabul today (AFP) May 2, 2007 -- Afghans have protested for a fourth day today over the killing of civilians by U.S.-led coalition forces hunting Taliban fighters.

More than five years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban and Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, public anger over the death of noncombatants has focused on the UN-backed Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai, as well as NATO and other foreign troops.

Some 2,000 university students chanted anti-U.S. slogans and slogans against Karzai in the eastern province of Nangahar, where up to six civilians died on April 29.

Protests have also been seen in Herat Province. UN investigators have been sent to Herat in the region to look into allegations of civilian deaths there.

NATO officials vowed at the start of 2007 to make a priority of avoiding civilian casualties.

In Kabul today, Karzai said international forces in Afghanistan need to prevent civilian casualties, saying they are no longer acceptable or understandable.

"We can no longer accept these casualties," Karzai said. "The Afghan nation has the right to complain. The Afghan nation should first complain to its government because it's our duty. I'm busy dealing with it on a daily basis. Today, we also had a very serious meeting with our foreign guests and those who cooperate with us whom I had invited and we tried to find better ways to coordinate in this area."

Five Militants Reported Killed

The U.S. military said today that Afghan border police and U.S.-led coalition forces killed five militants overnight at a checkpoint in Kandahar Province.

No police or coalition forces were injured.

There are more than 50,000 NATO and U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan fighting Taliban insurgents alongside the Afghan Army and police.


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