January 12, 2010 / 4:29 PM / in 9 years

FACTBOX: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan

(Reuters) - NATO troops and Afghan security forces opened fire on civilians during a demonstration in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, sharply raising the political temperature in one of the most volatile parts of the country.

Reports of civilian deaths and injuries caused by Western and government troops are among the most sensitive issues in Afghanistan and have led to street demonstrations in several cities in recent weeks. According to the United Nations, record numbers of civilians have been killed in both coalition raids and insurgent attacks in 2009.

Following are some major incidents which have led to large numbers of civilian casualties in Afghanistan:


On September 4, 2009 a NATO air strike called in by German forces in the northern province of Kunduz killed at least 30 civilians, according to the Afghan government. President Karzai said the strike was “wrong” and the incident became a major domestic political issue in Germany that led to the German defense minister at the time stepping down.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel apologized for the strike and the families of the victims are seeking millions of euros in compensation from the German government.


On August 22, 2008 a raid by U.S. forces in western Herat province led to 90 civilian deaths, according to the Afghan government. The strike was widely condemned by rights groups and caused uproar among Afghans. The U.S. military has disputed the Afghan government account and says up to seven civilians were killed.


On May 4, 2009 U.S. air strikes on compounds in the villages of Geraani and Ganjabad led to the deaths of an estimated 140 civilians, according to the Afghan government. The U.S. military put the civilian toll at 26 and defended the strikes as an “appropriate means to destroy the enemy threat.” The incident sparked outrage among Afghans and President Hamid Karzai and led the head of NATO forces at the time to revise the military directive on avoiding civilian casualties.


In one week in mid-April 2009 two air strikes by U.S. forces led to 11 civilian deaths in separate incidents in the eastern provinces of Khost and Kunar. U.S. forces later acknowledged they killed six civilians in Kunar province and five civilians in Khost province.

Compiled by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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