Taliban seen as cause of civilian deaths

Oct. 31, 2006 at 8:17 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The recent Afghan civilian deaths in a Kandahar district may have resulted from the Taliban's tactic of using humans as its shield, says NATO's commander.

Visiting U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said in Kabul, "Sadly, in asymmetric warfare, when you're battling an insurgency, typically, the insurgents do not play by the same rules that we would like to play by," reports the American Forces Press Service.

In the Oct. 24 incident, which is being investigated by NATO and the Afghan Defense Ministry, an official statement said a large number of insurgents were engaged by coalition close-air support near the Sperwan Ghar security base. The statement said that in addition to insurgents, a number of Afghan civilians were killed in the engagement. It is not yet known how many civilian died in the insurgent fire.

Jones said insurgents in Afghanistan routinely "attack using civilians as shields." He said, "They do everything they can to spread lies about the purpose of the (coalition) soldiers' efforts."

The general said he has personally apologized for the incident to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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