Hundreds of outraged protesters chanted
anti-American slogans in eastern Afghanistan after U.S. and Afghan forces
accidentally killed two female civilians. From VOA's South Asia news
center in Islamabad, Correspondent Benjamin Sand reports the U.S.-led raid
was targeting a suspected car-bomb cell.
U.S. officials say they launched the raid early Sunday after receiving
a tip that militants in the eastern province of Nangarhar were planning a
series of suicide attacks in the next few weeks.
Major William Mitchell says the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces
came under attack as they approached the militants' compound and returned
fire, killing four militants.
"Unfortunately an adult woman and a teenager were also killed in the
crossfire between militants and Coalition forces," he said. "A young child
and a teenage female were wounded during the firefight and are being
treated at a Coalition medical facility."
He says coalition forces found multiple AK-47 machine guns and
bomb-making materials inside.
U.S. officials also released a written statement expressing concern
over the loss of civilian lives. They accused the militants of endangering
innocents by hiding among their families.
The incident provoked a massive protest in the area. Hundreds of local
men chanted "death to Bush" and temporarily blocked the region's main
This is the second time in recent weeks that U.S. led forces are being
blamed for civilian casualties in Nangarhar, one of the key battleground
states in the fight against the five year old Taleban insurgency.
On March 4, U.S. Marines killed 12 people after being attacked by a
suicide car bomber.
Local eyewitnesses say the American forces fired indiscriminately into
groups of Afghan cars and pedestrians as they tried to escape the ambush.
The U.S. military subsequently determined the Marines used excessive
force in the incident and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
recently accused the Marines of violating international humanitarian law.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly denounced U.S. and
coalition military action that harms civilians, which is a major point of
concern for Afghans following more than three decades of foreign invasion
and civil unrest.