Afghans threaten US troops over civilian deaths

Angry Afghans threaten US troops after Special Forces raids kill civilians

JASON STRAZIUSO
AP News

Jan 31, 2009 13:21 EST

An angry Afghan man with a thick black beard ranted wildly at the U.S. officials, shouting about how their overnight raid had killed 16 civilians in his village. An Afghan elder cried out in grief that his son and four grandsons were among the dead.

One after another, a long line of government officials, villagers and community leaders told American military officials at the Laghman governor's compound that Afghan soldiers must be allowed to take part in such raids. Several predicted increased violence against U.S. forces if more nighttime operations take place.

Three recent U.S. Special Forces operations killed 50 people — the vast majority civilians, Afghan officials say — raising the ire of villagers and President Hamid Karzai, who set a one-month deadline for his demand that Afghan soldiers play a bigger role in military operations.

"If these operations are again conducted in our area, all of our people are ready to carry out jihad. We cannot tolerate seeing the dead bodies of our children and women anymore," Malik Malekazratullah, the Afghan who ranted at the Americans, told The Associated Press. "I've already told President Karzai we are out of patience."

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