Ceasefire call with Taliban shows anger over civilian toll
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan lawmakers angered by mounting civilian
deaths have sent a sharp warning to U.S. and NATO commanders, passing a
motion for a military cease-fire and negotiations with the Taliban.
The resolution, which NATO labeled â€śa warning shotâ€ť across its own
bow, came as reports emerged Wednesday of 21 villagers killed in
airstrikes, including several women and children.
The proposal from the upper house of parliament, which also calls for
a date to be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops, suggests that
Afghan support for the five-and-a-half-year-old international military
mission is crumbling amid a spate of civilian deaths.
â€śOne of the reasons I want this bill implemented is because of the
civilian deaths caused by both the enemy and international forces,â€ť said
Abdul Ahmad Zahidi, a parliamentarian from Ghazni province.
â€śItâ€™s difficult to prevent civilian deaths when the Taliban go inside
the homes of local people. How can you prevent casualties then? You
canâ€™t.â€ť Parliamentâ€™s lower house and President Hamid Karzai must endorse
the proposal for it to become law. Presidential officials were not
available for comment Wednesday.
However, Karzai has repeatedly said he is open to talks with Taliban.
The resolution passed Tuesday, hours before U.S. special forces battling
insurgents in Helmand province called in a series of airstrikes.
The U.S.-led coalition said it destroyed â€śthree enemy command and
control compoundsâ€ť near Sangin, a militant hotbed in the heart of
Afghanistanâ€™s biggest opium poppy region that has seen heavy fighting
The coalition said a â€śsignificantâ€ť number of militants died in the
16-hour battle, which pitted insurgents against U.S. and Afghan
government troops. One coalition soldier also died.
However, Helmand Gov. Assadullah Wafa said militants had sought
shelter in Afghan homes and the airstrikes killed at least 21 civilians.
Neither account could be independently verified.
On Tuesday, the U.S. military apologized and paid compensation to the
families of 19 people killed and 50 wounded by Marines Special Forces
who fired on civilians after a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan in
â€śWe donâ€™t want their money and apologies,â€ť said Haji Lawania, who was
injured in the incident and whose father and nephew were killed. The
U.S. military also says it is looking into reports from Afghan officials
that 51 civilians died in airstrikes and fighting in the western
province of Herat last month.
According to an Associated Press tally based on reports from Afghan
and Western officials, 238 civilians have been killed by violence this
year, including at least 102 blamed on NATO or the U.S.-led coalition.
Those numbers do not include the 21 reported killed Tuesday.