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Stop use of air power in Afghanistan, Karzai tells US
October 29, 2007 10:01 IST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that the US and coalition forces fighting Al Qaeda [Images] and Taliban elements in his country stop use of air power because of mounting civilian casualties and rising anger of the people against the allies and the Kabul government.
Karzai told CBS television network that he had recently delivered the message privately to President George W Bush [Images].
Asked if he was asking the American government to roll back the strikes, he replied, "Absolutely. Oh, yes, in clear words."
The United States and the coalition forces, he said, are not doing that (killing civilians) deliberately.
"The Afghan people understand that mistakes are made. But five years on, six years on, definitely, very clearly, they cannot comprehend as to why there is still a need for air power," Karzai explained.
A CBS correspondent, who investigated at least one incident, said they were surprised to hear that while the "enemy" has killed hundreds of civilians in the year, a similar number have been killed by American forces.
"With relatively few troops there, the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation rely on air power. The number of civilians killed in air strikes has doubled," he reported.
But the telling example of increasing hatred against Americans because of rising civilian casualties came in a village in which nine members of a family were killed when the American warplanes were trying to target the head of the family suspected to be a Taliban supporters who was not in the structure destroyed.