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Hundreds Of Afghans Protest NATO Raid


U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered 10,000 U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Some 200 Afghans have protested the deaths of two shepherds they say were killed in a NATO air strike.

Residents of Khogyani took two bodies to nearby Ghazni city, the provincial capital of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, where they shouted slogans like "death to foreign troops."

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan says it is looking into the allegations. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says it conducted an air strike in Khogyani but that it had only killed one insurgent who had been planting a bomb.

Accidental civilian deaths have driven a wedge between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers.

Casualties are up in Afghanistan as the violence spreads.

The United Nations said May was the deadliest month for civilians since they began keeping records four years ago.

But the UN noted insurgents were responsible for 80 percent of the 301 civilians killed in May.

Elsewhere, 32 men working for a de-mining team were kidnapped on July 6 by gunmen in western Farah Province.

U.S. Drawdown Details

In Washington, details emerged on the pullout of major U.S. combat units from Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered 10,000 U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. By 2014, the last 66,000 U.S. combat troops would leave and hand over security control to the Afghans.

Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the outgoing No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the withdrawal would start slowly.

He said 800 National Guard troops would leave this summer, and some 800 Marines would depart this fall.

But many members of Obama's Democratic Party want a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Democrats in the House of Representatives have inserted measures in next year's $649 billion defense-spending bill to force a speedier withdrawal.

Representative James McGovern said Obama's Afghan strategy was not sustainable given difficult economic times at home.

Meanwhile, the UN's top envoy in Afghanistan said the country's transition to handling its own security and development is "on track."

But Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council that the international community must make it clear to Afghanistan that it will not be abandoned in 2014 when it takes over security from NATO-led troops.

compiled from agency reports

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