Kabul: Two foreign soldiers died on Tuesday
fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, the NATO alliance said, as
Afghan authorities said international forces had killed eight
civilians in a recent operation.
NATO`s International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) said it was aware of the charges by some Afghan
officials that its soldiers had killed civilians during a raid
against Islamist rebels in the northern province of Baghlan.
"On Sunday we saw 11 helicopters coming," Mohammad
Ismail, the district chief for Tala Wa Barfak, where the
incident took place, told AFP.
"Some of the helicopters landed deploying troops.
They carried out attacks there. They killed eight people, all
civilians," he said.
Tala Wa Barfak is a remote district in Baghlan,
where Taliban insurgents have established a significant
presence in recent months.
The district chief said that about a dozen other
people, "all of them civilians," were injured in the raids,
which he said had lasted for "hours".
An ISAF spokesman said the claims were being
investigated, adding: "However, current operational reporting
does not support any civilian casualties."
Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces have
fallen this year, with NATO troops responsible for about 22
per cent of more than 1,200 non-combatant deaths in the first
half of 2010, a recent UN report said.
Afghan civilian casualties in the war launched
against the Taliban regime in October 2001 is a sensitive
issue that sometimes leads to violent anti-West protests.
President Hamid Karzai has long been calling on his
Western backers, the US and NATO members with 1,41,000 troops
in Afghanistan, to protect non-combatants during operations
Karzai has said that civilian casualties erode
public support for his administration, already unpopular among
Afghans because of rampant corruption among its officials and
its failure to provide security.
Meanwhile, ISAF said two foreign soldiers were
killed in southern Afghanistan today, bringing to 13 the
number of troops killed in the country since the weekend.
An American soldier was killed by a bomb in
southern Afghanistan, and an ISAF soldier whose nationality
was not disclosed was killed in fighting against insurgents,
also in the south, the NATO-led force said.
The latest deaths bring to 458 the number of
international soldiers killed in the Afghan war so far this
year, compared with 520 for the whole last year.