'Afghans to rise against US troops if more civilian deaths'

The reported toll brings noncombatant deaths at the hands of the forces to more than 800 since the beginning of last year, according to aid agencies and Afghan officials.

'Afghans to rise against US troops if more civilian deaths'
Foreign troops led by NATO and the U.S. military must exercise caution to avoid further civilian casualties while hunting militants in Afghanistan, or people will rise against them, lawmakers have warned.

Civilian deaths and house raids by foreign troops during operations arouse much anger and are sensitive for Western-backed President Hamid Karzai, who has been leading the country since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Over the past week alone, several dozen civilians, among them women, children and a would-be groom, have been killed in separate air attacks by US-led foreign troops, provincial officials say.

The reported toll brings noncombatant deaths at the hands of the forces to more than 800 since the beginning of last year, according to aid agencies and Afghan officials.

The upper house of the parliament condemned civilian deaths in the latest operations on Tuesday, state-controlled media reported on Wednesday.

"They should not act like the former Soviet Union did in Afghanistan," the house said in a statement, the Anis daily newspaper reported.

It was referring to the 10 years Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s when Moscow's forces relied heavily on air raids in the war against mujahideen, or Muslim holy fighters, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths.

"The people of this homeland are ready for any campaign and sacrifice to defend themselves, their religion and their national honour," the pro-government newspaper cited the upper house as saying.

The upper house stressed the need for coordination between the foreign and Afghan forces and lamented that repeated government calls for better cooperation to avoid civilian casualties had been ignored.

Most operations by foreign forces are in southern and eastern regions.

Most Pashtuns are very conservative and strangers forcing their way into their homes is considered highly insulting.

Ordinary Afghans have protested against foreign troops in response to civilian deaths and some have said they would join the insurgency led by Taliban.

But the upper house statement was the harshest to come from parliament.

Reuters
Last Mod: 09 Temmuz 2008, 14:40
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