Afghan, U.S. forces kill 25 Taliban, 8 civilians

Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:55pm EDT

(Adds Canadian fatalities)

KABUL, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces killed 25 Taliban insurgents and eight civilians after an ambush in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Monday.

The issue of civilian casualties has led to a rift between Afghanistan and its Western allies with President Hamid Karzai saying Sunday that foreign airstrikes had only succeeded in killing ordinary Afghans and would not defeat the insurgency.

The Taliban launched multiple ambushes on a patrol in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province Sunday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The militants "then fled into a neighboring compound where they held 11 non-combatants hostage, including several children and an infant," it said.

The insurgents then fired on the coalition forces from the compound and the troops called in an airstrike, but the statement said they did not know there were civilians in the building.

International forces are permitted to call in airstrikes when they are under attack even if they cannot be 100-percent sure there are no civilians in the area and this is where most mistakes are made, NATO officials say.

Foreign forces say they do their very best to avoid killing innocent bystanders, but the perception among many, if not most, Afghans is that the troops do not take enough care and support for the presence of international troops is waning.

Karzai Monday ordered an investigation into reports from local officials that NATO aircraft had killed about a dozen civilians in the northeastern province of Kapisa this week.

SUICIDE BOMB

Afghan and foreign military officials point out that far more civilians are killed by Taliban suicide and roadside bombs, but in aftermath of such attacks many Afghans blame the government and security forces for failing to stop them.

About 80 percent of the victims of suicide bombs are civilians, security analysts say.

A suicide car bomber targeting foreign troops killed one Afghan civilian and wounded 17 more on the eastern outskirts of the capital, Kabul, Monday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

A small number of ISAF soldiers were also wounded, it said.

British and Italian troops had cordoned off the scene of the blast and the blackened leg of the bomber lay on the road, a Reuters witness said.

On the southern edges of the city, a roadside bomb killed a police officer and wounded two others Monday, police said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a blast targeted a convoy of NATO-led forces in the northern province of Faryab Monday, the provincial police chief said.

General Abdul Khalil Andarabi said initial reports showed that 10 civilians and two soldiers from the alliance were wounded in the blast in the heart of provincial capital. NATO soldiers had cordoned off the site, he said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian military said one of its soldiers was killed on Monday in the Panjwayi district and another injured when they were attacked with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.

The army identified the dead soldier as Master Corporal Erin Doyle, with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

It was the second time in three days a Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan. On Saturday, Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts of the Princess Patricia's 2nd Battalion, based in Shilo, Manitoba, was killed in the Zharey District.

Taliban insurgents have launched increasing numbers of suicide and roadside bomb attacks this year in their campaign against Afghan and foreign forces. (Reporting by Ahmad Elham, Sayed Salahuddin, Jon Hemming amd Jeffrey Jones; Editing by David Fogarty, Peter Galloway)



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