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Afghan Officials Warn US over Attack That Killed 18 Civilians

US acted with unilateral authority in deadly strike, ignoring recent agreements

Common Dreams staff

The commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, US Marine Lt General John Allen apologised Friday for the deaths. (Photograph: Deb Riechmann/AP)

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's chief spokesman, Aimal Faizi, on Saturday said a missile attack that killed 18 civilians last week -- nine of them children including an infant -- was ordered unilaterally by the US military and that such actions betray the recent security pact signed between the two countries.

He called for an end to US bombings in residential areas and said that innocent lives would have been saved if the US had taken the time to consult with Afghan military forces on the ground.

"If the bombings on Afghan homes continue, they will be regarded as a violation and an act of aggression," Faizi said.

Nine of the victims were children, including an infant, five were women and three were elderly people, police said.

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The Guardian reports:

The Afghan government has hit out at the US for failing to consult with local forces ahead of an airstrike that killed 18 civilians, suggesting future such raids would be viewed as a breach of its pact with Washington.

An investigation into Wednesday's night-time raid found that it was the result of "a one-sided decision, and not co-ordinated with Afghan security forces", President Hamid Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faiz said.

He went on to suggest that a repeat of the unilateral strike would be seen as a violation of a pact between the two countries over who takes the lead in "special operations" in the country.

Signed in April, the agreement puts the Afghan government in charge of such manoeuvres – a move designed to resolve some of the longstanding tensions between the two countries. [...]

As part of the transition of power, more agreements are expected to be signed handing responsibility for security matters to Afghan forces.

But investigators looking into the circumstances surrounding the latest loss of civilian life in an airborne attack concluded that the call was made by US authorities alone.

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Reuters adds:

NATO initially said its forces and Afghan troops came under fire during the operation to capture a Taliban commander and they called for an air strike.

It said operational reports indicated that two women received non-life threatening injuries and that a number of insurgents were killed.

Later, as villagers displayed bodies of women and children from the ruins of two houses, the NATO-led force said it had ordered an investigation. Nine of the victims were children, including an infant, five were women and three were elderly people, police said.

Karzai's chief spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said the air strike was ordered unilaterally without coordinating with the Afghan forces on the ground.

Afghan forces had surrounded the compound and if there was firing coming from inside they could have dealt with it, he said. "A few minutes of patience would have saved the lives of civilians."

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