British Open Fire in Afghanistan
Sunday, June 24, 2007; 7:59 AM
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A roadside bomb hit a convoy of British troops Sunday, wounding one soldier and prompting them to open fire in a civilian area in insurgency-plagued Helmand province, killing one man, police said.
Also in the south, militants executed the kidnapped son of a police officer, reneging on a deal to free him in exchange for the release of a Taliban commander, while the latest violence killed more than a dozen suspected militants, a U.S.-led coalition soldier and four Afghan troops.
A remote-controlled bomb hit a NATO convoy, wounding one British soldier Sunday morning and prompting British troops to open fire south of Helmand's main city of Lashkar Gah, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussain.
Hussain said the British gunfire killed one man, but it was not clear if the victim was a civilian or a militant involved in the attack.
Raz Mohammad Sayed, director of a local hospital, said one man was killed, and another man was wounded by British gunfire. He referred to both victims as "civilians."
At the hospital, Saad Mohammad, the brother of the man killed, said he was with his brother when the British forces opened fire in different directions, including at houses in the area.
On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused foreign soldiers of carelessly killing scores of Afghan civilians and warned that the fight against resurgent Taliban militants could fail unless foreign forces show more restraint.
"Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such," Karzai said in an angry rebuke that drew a contrite acknowledgment from NATO that it must "do better."
In the past 10 days, more than 90 civilians have been killed by airstrikes and artillery fire targeting Taliban insurgents, Karzai said. The mounting toll is sapping the authority of the Western-backed Afghan president, who has pleaded repeatedly with U.S. and NATO commanders to consult Afghan authorities during operations and show more restraint.
Asked about the attack on the British forces and subsequent shooting, the press office of NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed violence with NATO casualties in the south. It did not give any further details, saying it was looking into incident.
Separately in the Sangin district of Helmand, militants executed the kidnapped son of a police officer Saturday, reneging on a deal to release the hostage in exchange for a Taliban commander, said deputy district police chief Abdullah Khan.
The Taliban had initially demanded the release of the Taliban group commander, but after he was freed, they changed the terms of the deal, demanding that the district police chief _ the father of the hostage _ step down.