South Asia News
US forces "mistakenly" kill Afghan president's cousin
Mar 10, 2011, 10:26 GMT
Kabul - US special forces killed a cousin of President Hamid Karzai when they stormed a house in southern Afghanistan, a district governor said Thursday.
The troops conducted the raid on Wednesday night in Kandahar province's Dand district after arriving by helicopter, Governor Hamdullah Nazek said.
'Haji Yar Mohammad Khan was martyred in the operation,' said Nazek, declining to provide further details. 'We are investigating the incident now.'
Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president's younger brother and head of Kandahar's provincial council, also confirmed the death, saying his cousin was 'mistakenly' killed by the NATO forces.
A NATO military official said that the alliance has launched an investigation into the shooting.
The Afghan president has repeatedly lashed out at foreign troops over civilian casualties that have been caused primarily by air strikes and nighttime raids.
Last week, the president rejected an apology from US General David Petraeus, the top commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US troops in Afghanistan, after an ISAF air strike killed nine children in eastern Afghanistan.
The president said that such apologies were 'not enough' and 'no longer acceptable.'
Meanwhile, up to 200 protesters on Thursday made their way to the city of Kandahar with the bodies of three men who they claimed had been killed by Afghan forces in the district of Zherai the day before, local resident Abdul Ghafar said.
The group, which staged a demonstration in front of the governor's office, claimed that the dead men were innocent civilians.
The provincial government confirmed the deaths, but said in a statement that the men were armed insurgents who were killed in an exchange of fire. Three more suspects were detained in the operation, it said.
Also in the district of Zherai, the governor's office said Thursday that Taliban militants had cut off the ears of four Afghans working for a government-funded development project.
The militants had detained a total of eight people, including four children. The vehicle they were travelling in was burned and the ears of the four adults severed before the group was released, it said, adding that the children were not harmed.
All eight are Pashtuns from northern Afghanistan who had fled the area after the 2001 toppling of the Pashtun-dominated Taliban regime because they feared recrimination from non-Pashtuns. They now live in a refugee camp in the district.
The governor's office said the Taliban had targeted a group of road workers in the same district a few weeks earlier, killing and injuring four people.
Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, has posed a challenge for foreign troops and Afghan forces in their battle against the militants. They claimed 'fragile' and 'reversible' gains in 2010, but violence against civilians is still at a record high.
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