Kabul: The Afghan president ordered Saturday
that only Afghan forces may carry out special operations and
night raids, and not NATO troops an effort meant to stymie
popular anger over the international troops` nighttime
assaults that he said kill civilians.
Hamid Karzai`s announcement also said the
international coalition should not proceed with any raids that
have not been coordinated beforehand with the Afghan side.
It wasn`t immediately clear what impact, if any, Karzai`s
orders could have on NATO`s actions. The coalition promptly
defended the raids as a necessity to flush out insurgents from
"We can achieve the mutual objectives we share with
President Karzai only by having night operations as a
component of the overall campaign," NATO said in a statement,
made available to The Associated Press.
However, NATO indicated there would be a gradual
handover, saying that "we know that we must move from Afghan
participation in night operations to Afghan forces having
responsibility for night operations."
The alliance claims that all such operations are
conducted jointly with Afghan forces.
The Afghan public, which has grown increasingly
hostile to foreigners as the nearly decade-long war continues,
tends to perceive the NATO raids as capturing the wrong people
or mistreating civilians during searches of private homes and
Karzai repeatedly has criticised the raids, though
this was his first tangible effort to stop them.