Afghans protesters accuse NATO of killing 4 children
KANDAHAR - Agence France-Presse
In this Sunday, April 15, 2012 file photo, foreign soldiers part of the NATO forces run toward a building, unseen, occupied by militants during a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan. AP PhotoHundreds of Afghan demonstrators on today accused US-led NATO troops of killing four children during clashes with insurgents in a southern Afghan town, officials and witnesses said.
The protesters, who were carrying the bodies of four children aged eight to 12, blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway and chanted anti-US slogans, they said.
The children died during an exchange of fire between Taliban insurgents and NATO and Afghan security forces in Shahjoy in the troubled southern Zabul province on Monday, said deputy provincial governor Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar.
The gunfight was unleashed when members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), along with their allies from the Afghan security forces, were meeting local community leaders and came under attack by insurgents.
"ISAF and Afghan troops returned fire. There was an exchange of fire during which four children were killed and some others kids were injured. Today the people are protesting the killing of the children," Rasoulyar told AFP.
The official said his initial findings suggested the casualties were caused by Taliban fire.
Police official Mohammad Zahir told AFP from the scene that "a few hundred" people took part in the protest. The men carried the bodies of four children they alleged were killed in ISAF fire, he said.
ISAF headquarters referred queries to a regional command-base which could not immediately be reached for comment.
Civilian casualties are a sensitive issue in the US-led war against the Taliban insurgency and have often been the cause of tense relations between Kabul and Washington.