Operation on Taliban claims Afghan civilian lives

Operation on Taliban claims Afghan civilian lives
# 22 February 2010 19:29 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. As the NATO-led Operation Moshtarak, or Together, against Taliban bastion in southern Afghanistan entered its 10th day on Monday, the number of casualties inflicted on non-combatants is on the rise, APA reports quoting Xinhuanet News.
The latest air strike against suspected Taliban militants in the troubled southern region on Sunday left 27 civilians including four women and a child dead and injured another dozen, according to a statement issued by the Presidential Palace.
The country’s cabinet, while previously put the number of casualties at 33, in a sharp reaction strongly condemned the incident, calling on NATO-led troops to avoid harming innocent citizens.
The cabinet warned that harming civilians would negatively affect the war on terror.
"While condemning the attack in the strongest possible terms, Afghanistan’s council of ministers urges the NATO forces to closely coordinate and exercise maximum care before conducting any military operation so that any possible mistakes that may result in harming civilians, were considered a major obstacle for an effective counterterrorism effort," the statement noted.
On the second day of Operation Moshtarak, NATO fired two rockets but one of them missed the target and hit a residential area, killing 12 civilians.
Since launching the operation against Taliban fiefdom in Marjah district of southern Helmand province on Feb. 13, some 40 militants, according to officials, have been killed while the number of civilians killed have reached 43 in Marjah.
Some 15,000 Afghan and NATO-led troops launched the ever- biggest offensive against Taliban in Marjah with the objective to restoring governmental control, to win people’s trust and to accelerate reconstruction process.
Fifteen NATO soldiers have also been killed in Marjah and elsewhere in the restive southern region since launching the Operation Moshtarak.
Sunday’s killing of at least 27 civilians has been reported just after Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on NATO-led troops Saturday to take care of civilian lives and avoid harming non- combatants.
"Although the NATO troops have done a lot to reduce civilian casualties, our objective is to reach the point where there is no civilian casualty," the Afghan president said in his speech at the session of the parliament resumed Saturday after the winter vocation.
Meanwhile, commander of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan General Stanly McChrystal, according to a NATO statement, apologized for the killing of innocent civilians to President Karzai and assured that the tragic incident will not be repeated.
"We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives. I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people, and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission. We will re- double our efforts to regain that trust," the NATO commander was quoted by the statement as saying.
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