Afghanistan war: US night raid sparks protest over civilian deaths
A night raid by US troops, which left an armed Afghan dead, sparked a street protest Thursday. In the Afghanistan war, Gen. Stanley McChrystal has issued orders to limit night raids in an attempt to reduce civilian deaths in the pursuit of Taliban fighters.
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An Afghan man is "conditioned to respond aggressively in defense of his home and his guests whenever he perceives his home or honor is threatened," McChrystal said at the time.Skip to next paragraph
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"In a similar situation, most of us would do the same," he said. "This reaction is compounded when our forces invade his home at night, particularly when women are present. Instinctive responses to defend his home and family are sometimes interpreted as insurgent acts, with tragic results."
The directive was part of an ongoing effort by McChrystal that had some initial success in reducing civilian deaths.
Last year, civilian deaths due to American-led forces and the Afghan government fell by nearly 30 percent, according to a U.N. report this year. Civilian deaths rose 14 percent in 2009 and hit their highest levels of the decade. The U.S. and its allies were responsible for about a quarter of those 2,412 deaths, the U.N. report said.
Since then, the campaign to contain such deaths has had a series of setbacks.
There's been a dramatic spike in civilian deaths in the first three months of this year. According to military figures, the international coalition and its Afghan allies killed 87 civilians in Afghanistan over that period, a significant jump from the first quarter of 2009, when the coalition said it was responsible for the deaths of 29 Afghan civilians.
American officials said the jump was the result, in part, of accelerated military operations and a flood of new troops into Afghanistan.
Even so, a series of military missteps in recent months has undermined McChrystal's overriding message.
Earlier this month, the U.S. military apologized for a botched special forces raid in February that killed five civilians, including two pregnant women.
The military was forced to admit responsibility for the deaths after The Times of London questioned the official version of the attack, which suggested that Taliban fighters had killed the women.
On Thursday, U.S. military officials said they were looking into the latest controversy.
"We are taking Safiya Sidiqi's allegations seriously and thoroughly reviewing our actions and intelligence connecting the Taliban facilitator to that particular compound," said U.S. Army Col. Wayne Shanks, the chief of public affairs for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Shah Fasial Sidiqi criticized the Americans for the raid and said that even if his relative was armed, they shouldn't have killed him in the murky circumstances.
"This is a shame for America," he said. "They are worse than the Taliban."
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