Friday, January 23, 2009

NATO friendly fire kills 2 civilians, wounds 4 more in S Afghanistan

KABUL, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Two civilians have been unintentionally killed with four more wounded by friendly fire of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in southern Afghan province of Helmand, said ISAF statements received here on Saturday.

A local man, who was suspected laying IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) near an ISAF base in Gereshk district, was killed by ISAF forces on Thursday, the statement said.

It added that an ISAF soldier killed the victim after he ignored two warning shot and kept digging.

"ISAF broadcasts frequent public service announcements and undertakes advertising campaigns to inform the local population of the need to follow the directions given by ISAF personnel. This is for their safety as well as for the safety of ISAF's soldiers," it added.

In another incident in Sagin district, "a local man was unintentionally killed and four others injured in an incident on Wednesday when ISAF forces came under attack from enemy fire and were forced to act in self defense," said the statement.

It noted that "at the time of the incident, ISAF forces were conducting an intelligence-led operation in the Sangin area to locate and make safe enemy facilities where significant numbers of weapons, ammunition and IED-making equipment were discovered."

However, the statement added "ISAF sincerely regrets any injuries caused to civilians. ISAF soldiers are trained to take appropriate steps to minimize civilian casualties, whilst at the same time taking action to protect themselves when threatened."

Conflicts and Taliban-linked insurgency have left more than 5,000 people dead with over 2,000 civilians and 294 foreign troops in the past 2008, despite some 70,000-strong international troops stationed in militancy-plagued Afghanistan.


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