NATO Occupation Forces
Kill Afghan Civilians, Police Say
01/12/07 -- -KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan 12 (Reuters) -
NATO aircraft attacked Taliban rebels in southern
Afghanistan and killed 16 insurgents and 13 civilians,
Afghan police said on Friday, but NATO denied causing
The attack in Garmser district of Helmand province on
Thursday came hours after a separate incident in which
NATO said its troops and Afghan forces killed up to 150
insurgents infiltrating from Pakistan.
Last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan since
U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 but the
violence fell off at the end of the year.
The chief of police in Helmand, Mohammand Nabi
Mullahkhail, said 16 Taliban and 13 civilians had been
killed in a NATO air strike in the remote district where
British troops have been fighting the Taliban for
But a spokeswoman for the 32,000-strong NATO force said
on Friday there was no evidence of any civilian
"Our intelligence suggests all casualties are Taliban,"
the spokeswoman said. She declined to give more details
saying different reports of the attack were being
The NATO force, facing the fiercest ground combat of the
alliance's history, says it takes all steps to avoid
civilian casualties but deadly incidents do occur.
A NATO spokesman in Brussels said this week poor
communications between NATO and Afghan authorities were
to blame for the killing of 31 civilians last October by
alliance warplanes during a battle with insurgents in
In the first big clash of this year, NATO said up to 150
insurgents were killed in a series of air and artillery
strikes in the southeastern province of Paktika late on
Wednesday after the rebels slipped over the border from
On Friday, a suicide car bomber attacked a vehicle on
the outskirts of Kabul, wounding two foreigners and four
Afghans, police said. A NATO spokeswoman said the
vehicle attacked belonged to a civilian contractor.
Afghan anger over the infiltration of resurgent Taliban
from Pakistan has damaged relations between the
neighbours, both important U.S. allies in the war on
Afghanistan and the United Nations have been urging
Pakistan to do more to end Taliban sanctuaries in the
lawless border lands where Pakistani forces have also
been fighting militants.
U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said on Thursday
it would be necessary to eliminate Taliban safe havens
in Pakistan's tribal areas to end the insurgency in
Afghanistan. (Additional reporting by Robert Birsel in