Afghans protest against U.S. on civilian deaths report
Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:30pm EST
By Mohammad Rafiq
MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Thousands of Afghans protested against President Hamid Karzai and the United States on Sunday over reports of fresh civilian deaths caused by U.S.-led troops during a raid against Taliban militants.
The issue of civilian casualties is sensitive in Afghanistan and has eroded public support for Karzai's government and the foreign troops backing it.
It has also caused a rift between Karzai and his Western allies more than seven years after U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban's government.
The operation causing the latest controversy happened this week in eastern Laghman province. The U.S. military said on Saturday that troops, backed by air support, had killed 15 militants in an overnight operation.
Assadullah Wafa, a Karzai adviser investigating the deaths, said on Sunday that "16 civilians, many of them children and women, were killed" in the operation. read on