ISAF to retrain troops on civilian casualties: Kabul

Published Nov 29, 2011 07:59am

Afghan President Hamid Karzai. — File Photo by AFP

KABUL: Nato's US-led force in Afghanistan will retrain its troops by December 5 on how to avoid civilian casualties, following fresh accusations of civilian killings President Hamid Karzai's office said on Tuesday.

The move comes with Nato already facing uncomfortable fallout after an air strike killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border on Saturday.

Karzai's office quoted a letter from Commander General John Allen as saying he had issued orders “for all units to conduct retraining on our methods of employing force against insurgents while protecting Afghan civilians.”

It added: “No later than 5 December, units will confirm to me that they have complied with these orders.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could not immediately confirm the letter.

Pakistan has cut off crucial supply routes to ISAF forces in Afghanistan in retaliation for Saturday's air strike killing troops across the border.

The issue of civilian casualties has long been highly sensitive in Afghanistan and has fuelled tensions between Karzai and his Western backers.

Karzai last week accused ISAF of killing seven people including six children in an air strike in Zhari district of the southern province of Kandahar.

On Sunday, in the same district three women died while one child and another woman were wounded when an ISAF mortar hit a civilian house, Kandahar governor's spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi said.

ISAF said it did not have any immediate information on that incident.

Nato commanders say the Taliban and other insurgents frequently hide among the local population in a bid to protect themselves.

However, ISAF forces are supposed to take all possible steps to avoid civilian casualties.

Allen wrote in July that he expected “every member of ISAF to be seized with the intent to eliminate civilian casualties caused by ISAF.”

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