Afghan President Sets Probe Of Killings

By Rahim Faiez
Associated Press
Saturday, August 26, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 25 -- President Hamid Karzai on Friday ordered an investigation into the deaths of eight people in a raid that the U.S. military said targeted al-Qaeda members but police said killed civilians. It was the second time in a week his government has questioned the military's tactics.

The inquiry into Thursday's deaths in eastern Konar province was Karzai's latest show of displeasure with the foreign forces that he depends on to protect his weak government from resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

A statement released by Karzai's office said he had ordered a "thorough investigation" into the killings, including the death of a 10-year-old. Konar's governor and local lawmakers have gone on a fact-finding trip to the area.

The U.S. military said a joint American-Afghan force descended on a compound in Shigal district to nab an al-Qaeda "facilitator" wanted for attacks on foreign and Afghan forces in the region.

Gunmen inside the compound shot at the troops, who returned fire and killed seven suspected al-Qaeda members, including the facilitator, the military said. A child also was killed and a woman was wounded.

But police said the U.S.-led forces attacked a building where two families were trying to resolve a dispute with the help of tribal elders.

"According to our district chief, the people who have been killed in the incident this morning are civilians from Shigal district," Abdul Sabur Alluhyar, the deputy provincial police chief, said Thursday. He added that someone had given the foreign troops incorrect information that an al-Qaeda meeting was taking place at the compound.

The raid came a week after foreign aircraft destroyed two trucks used in an insurgent attack that killed an Afghan soldier in southeastern Paktika province.

Afghan officials said 10 border police officers were killed in the strike, for which Karzai quickly condemned coalition forces. But U.S. officials said they were confident they had targeted fighters, not police.

[Elsewhere Saturday, two U.S.-led coalition soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an eastern province, the U.S. military said.]

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