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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 01:15 GMT 02:15 UK
Nato concedes Afghan shortfalls
Afghans in Kabul demonstrate against the US (file picture)
Anger against foreign forces is rising among ordinary Afghans
Nato has said it needs to do better in its operations in Afghanistan, after coming under criticism from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Mr Karzai accused Nato and US-led troops of failing to co-ordinate with their Afghan allies, thereby causing civilian deaths.

A Nato spokesman said Mr Karzai had a right to be "disappointed and angry" over the scale of civilian casualties.

It came after a week in which up to 90 Afghan civilians were killed.

More civilians have been killed this year as a result of foreign military action than have been killed by insurgents, correspondents say.

Separately, rockets fired by coalition forces in Afghanistan killed at least nine Pakistani civilians, the Pakistan military said on Saturday.

Coalition forces were fighting militants in Afghanistan close to the Pakistan border when a few rockets came across the frontier, hitting a house.

Pakistan is demanding an explanation, a spokesman said.

Nato said about 60 militants in Afghanistan had been killed in the offensive.

Co-ordination call

Mr Karzai said innocent people were becoming "victims of reckless operations" because foreign troops had ignored Afghan advice for years.

He was speaking a day after the head of Nato called for an investigation into an air strike in the Afghan province of Helmand in which 25 civilians were killed.
The importance of not killing civilians cannot be overestimated
BBC's Alastair Leithead

The Afghan leader said foreign bombardment had also killed 62 civilians in the province of Uruzgan.

"You don't fight a terrorist by firing a field gun 37km (24 miles) away into a target. That's definitely, surely bound to cause civilian casualties," he said.

Accusing international forces of consistently failing to co-ordinate with their Afghan colleagues, Mr Karzai said that, in future, every military operation should be co-ordinated directly with his government, in accordance with written plans he said already existed.

"Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such," he said.

'Critical difference'

Responding to Mr Karzai's comments, Nato spokesman Nick Lunt said the Afghan leader's anger was justified.

"President Karzai has a right to be disappointed and angry over the scale of civilians casualties in the last few days," Mr Lunt was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

"We need to do better than we have been doing so far. But unlike the Taleban, we do not set out to cause civilian casualties, and that is a critical difference," he said.

There are two international missions in Afghanistan.

One is the Nato-led Isaf, with 37,000 troops from 37 countries, including the US.

Its aim is to help the Afghan government bring security, development and better governance.

The other, a US-led coalition, is a counter-terrorism mission that involves mainly special forces.

Both have recently been involved in heavy clashes with insurgents.


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