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Afghan, U.S. Forces Kill 25 Taliban, Eight Civilians

KABUL -- Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces killed 25 Taliban insurgents and eight civilians after an ambush in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military has said.

The issue of civilian casualties has led to a rift between Afghanistan and its Western allies, with President Hamid Karzai saying on August 10 that foreign air strikes had only succeeded in killing ordinary Afghans and would not defeat the insurgency.

The Taliban launched multiple ambushes on a patrol in the Khas Uruzgan district of Oruzgan Province on August 10, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The militants "then fled into a neighboring compound where they held 11 noncombatants hostage, including several children and an infant," it said.

The insurgents then fired on the coalition forces from the compound and the troops called in an air strike, but the statement said they did not know there were civilians in the building.

International forces are permitted to call in air strikes when they are under attack, even if they cannot be 100 percent sure there are no civilians in the area. This is where most mistakes are made, NATO officials say.

Support For Troops Waning

Foreign forces say they do their very best to avoid killing innocent bystanders, but the perception among many, if not most, Afghans is that the troops do not take enough care and support for the presence of international troops is waning.

"The Taliban uses innocent civilians' homes, taking them by force to attack Afghan and coalition forces," the U.S. military quoted Oruzgan police chief Juma Gul as saying. "If civilians get killed during these attacks, the responsibility falls on the Taliban and their terrorist sponsors."

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber targeted foreign troops in the northern province of Faryab on August 11, the private Tolo TV reported. The television station did not have any further information on casualties.

A roadside bomb also killed a police officer and wounded two others on the southern outskirts of Kabul, police said.

Taliban insurgents have launched increasing numbers of suicide and roadside bomb attacks this year in their campaign against Afghan and foreign forces.