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Civilians Deaths Main Source Of Afghan Anger, Report Concludes

Afghan protestors burn a U.S. flag during a demonstration over civilian deaths in Jalalabad in 2007.

Afghan protestors burn a U.S. flag during a demonstration over civilian deaths in Jalalabad in 2007.

Civilian deaths in air strikes by foreign forces and violent night raids in Afghanistan are the main cause of Afghan anger against foreign troops, a rights body says.

Hundreds of Afghans have been killed in U.S. air strikes this year, undermining public support for the continued presence of NATO-led and U.S. coalition troops in Afghanistan and leading to a rift between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers.

Quoting a UN estimate, Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission said in a report that 695 civilians were killed this year until October in raids by foreign and Afghan troops while hunting the Taliban.

"Large air strikes resulting in tens of civilian casualties were a national focal point of anger toward PGF (pro-government forces)," said the report titled "From Hope to Fear," referring to Afghan and foreign troops. "While nighttime house searches resulted in fewer deaths, night raids frequently involved abusive behavior and violent breaking and entry at night, which stoke almost as much anger toward PGF as the more lethal air strikes."

The commission recommends more coordination between foreign troops and the Afghan government, an end to nighttime operations and an offer of justice to victims by the Afghan administration and governments contributing troops.

Taking action against those responsible for any violations was also part of its recommendations.

(by Reuters)

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