Karzai again condemns NATO operations

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Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, March 12, 2011; 5:25 PM

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded Saturday that NATO have its troops "stop their operations on our soil" - the bluntest language he has yet used to criticize the way the international force is waging the war.

"If this war is a war against terrorism, then the war against terrorism is not in our villages or on our soil," Karzai said in an emotional speech to the relatives of nine children killed in a recent NATO airstrike while they gathered firewood in eastern Afghanistan.

A spokesman for Karzai later sought to temper the remarks, saying the president meant to demand that NATO cease operations that harm civilians and that it halt its operations completely.

Karzai held one of the children wounded in the March 1 airstrike as he addressed a gathering that included the No. 2 commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez.

The airstrike, which resulted in one of the worst cases of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, was carried out in response to a rocket attack on a NATO base in Konar province, NATO officials have said.

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