NATO troops raid Afghan MP's home, kill relative

29th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

NATO troops raided the home of a prominent Afghan lawmaker, killing a relative, police and the MP said Thursday, as the French military admitted accidentally killing civilians.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed an overnight operation in eastern Nangarhar province's Surkh Rod district and said troops killed an "individual" because he was carrying a gun.

The soldiers were "pursuing a Taliban facilitator" in the area, ISAF said in a statement, without mentioning the MP.

Safia Sidiqi, a member of the Afghan parliament representing Surkh Rod, told AFP the troops entered her home without warning.

"My brothers thought they were thieves," Sidiqi told AFP, adding that she had not been at the house at the time.

"One of my relatives took a shotgun and walked out of the room. The troops shot him dead," she said. The victim had been visiting the family for the night, she said.

The MP said the troops tied her brothers' hands despite them identifying themselves in English as siblings of a lawmaker.

"My brothers told them in English 'do you know whose house is this? This the house of Safia Sidiqi, a member of the Afghan parliament'," Sidiqi said.

"They said 'we know" and did not allow them to speak further," she said.

Abdul Ghafour, a provincial police spokesman and head of police in the Surkh Rod district, also confirmed the incident.

"I tried to go there but American troops did not allow us," he said.

Sidiqi, who was in the provincial capital Jalalabad about 10 kilometres (six miles) away, said her brothers telephoned to say there were thieves in the house. She said she then called the police.

"The police told me that they're not thieves, they were international forces searching the area," she said.

In the statement, ISAF said the operation was carried out jointly with Afghan security forces.

Incidents in which NATO and US forces have killed Afghan civilians after mistaking them for militants are highly sensitive and have sparked angry public protests.

The United Nations has said that most civilian fatalities -- 2,412 in 2009 and 2,118 in 2008 -- are caused by Taliban attacks.

The French military admitted Thursday that its troops accidentally killed four civilians in Afghanistan on April 6 in a missile attack targeting insurgents.

General staff spokesman Christophe Prazuck said "the firing of a Milan (anti-tank) missile was the cause" of the deaths of the four, who were hidden by trees during the strike in the Kapisa region of eastern Afghanistan.

"To our knowledge it is the first time such a thing has happened to French troops" who are taking part in the NATO mission against Taliban militants in Afghanistan, Prazuck told AFP.

In eastern Laghman province a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near an Afghan army training facility, killing a soldier, said Qasim Ahmadzai, chief of Alishing district.

Two other soldiers were injured in the bombing, he told AFP, adding that the bomber set off his car bomb at the entrance to the facility. The Taliban, the biggest militant group in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility.

The militia is waging a nearly nine-year insurgency against 126,000 US-led foreign troops trying to help the Western-backed government defeat the insurgents.

Under a plan designed to fast-track an end to the war, Washington has spearheaded a major troop surge, which is expected to bring the overall number of foreign troops to 150,000 by August.

The insurgency, largely concentrated in southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, has spread to new areas in the north and west in recent years.

Five Taliban insurgents were killed by Afghan and foreign troops in northern province of Kunduz late Wednesday, Afghan General Murad Ali Murad said.

© 2010 AFP

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