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Civilian deaths spark dispute between US-led forces, Afghan President Karzai

The death of at least two civilians on a Tuesday mission to clear Afghan insurgents has led to yet another dispute between U.S. led forces and the country’s president Hamid Karzai.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expressed regret Wednesday that two civilians were killed “during a deliberately-planned, Afghan-led clearing operation to disrupt insurgent activity” in Parwan Province, which is north of Kabul.  

Afghan Special Operations commandos and their coalition advisors came under heavy fire resulting in the death of one ISAF member they said, adding that they had called in defensive air support to suppress enemy fire.

Initial operational reports indicated that at least 10 insurgents died in the attack and that “tragically, two civilians inside a building from which insurgents were firing on the commandos were killed.”

Disputing the way events unfolded the Presidential Palace of Hamid Karzai described the incident as an “American airstrike” and condemned the attack. They added that their investigations found that eight civilians had died, including one woman and seven children.  

Contention over civilian casualties has been a long standing sticking point between the two nations and is one the reasons cited by Karzai for his refusal to sign a long-term bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. 

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