Monday, May 29, 2006

Civilian deaths could fuel Taliban support

Afghan officials and human rights activists say a U.S. airstrike that killed at least 16 civilians this month — possibly as many as 34 — undermines President Hamid Karzai and boosts support for the resurgent Taliban.

It's damaging for the dignity of the government," said Noorulaq Homi, a lawmaker from Kandahar province. "The people distance themselves from the government and move toward the Taliban. It is a positive message for the enemy."

The deaths came May 21 in an airstrike on Azizi village in Kandahar province. Although the strike killed up to 80 militants by U.S. military estimates, the accompanying civilian casualties can be used as a recruiting tool Taliban-led rebels.

They also place Afghanistan's U.S.-backed president, Hamid Karzai, in a political fix. He remains reliant on the U.S.-led coalition to protect his government but can't ignore the public anger stirred by military mistakes. The latest incident came just five weeks after the killings of seven civilians by coalition military in eastern Kunar province that also drew Karzai's ire.

Source Here.


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