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Kabul raid kills 3, including 2 children
1. September 2008, 02:07

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer
A raid by foreign and Afghan forces in Kabul killed a man and his two children early Monday, a police official and witnesses said.

The raid in the eastern outskirts of the Afghan capital was conducted by U.S. troops backed by Afghan intelligence agents, said police officer Qubaidullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name.

He said the raid killed a man named Nurullah and two of his children and wounded his wife.

The deaths are likely to further strain relations between the local people and the U.S. and other foreign forces in Afghanistan, who have been accused by Afghan officials of killing up to 90 civilians during an Aug. 22 operation in the country's west.

The U.S. denies the accusation, saying its troops and Afghan commandos killed 25 militants and five civilians in the raid in Azizabad village in Herat province.

The U.S.-led coalition and NATO-led force said they had no information about Monday's raid and could not confirm their troops participated.

Angry men gathered at the victims' house in the Utkheil area east of Kabul, where the bodies of Nurullah and his two children boys aged 1 and 2 were displayed inside a mud-walled compound. Nurullah's wife was also wounded in the operation, said Yahya Khan, a cousin.

The raid left the house with broken windows and bullet holes in the walls.

Three other men, all the victims' cousins, were detained during the operation but later released, Khan said.

Separately, NATO said it is anticipating a Taliban claim of further civilian casualties in the south.

In a statement late Sunday, NATO said it had received information from "a reliable source" that insurgents planned to falsely claim international military forces killed up to 70 civilians in Sangin district in southern Helmand province.

Earlier, the military alliance said its forces had helped "a number" of injured civilians who approached its forces in Sangin. Soldiers provided medical treatment and helped take them to medical facilities around Helmand and Kandahar, it said. It did not say whether the injuries were caused by weapons.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had no reports of 70 civilian deaths in Sangin.

"There have been no reports other than of those injured, the cause of which remains unknown at this time," it said.

NATO said it condemns the "use of the plight of innocent civilians for propaganda gain by insurgents."

The warning of a possible civilian casualty claim came hours after the separate U.S.-led coalition command said its troops killed over 220 insurgents in a week of fighting in the same province. The coalition did not say where the militants were killed.

It was unclear whether the two reports were related.

The issue of civilian deaths is a particularly sensitive topic in Afghanistan following the Aug. 22 bombing of the village of Azizabad in Herat province by the U.S.-led coalition. An Afghan government commission said 90 civilians were killed, a finding backed by a preliminary U.N. report.

The U.S. military has said 25 militants and five civilians were killed, and that it is investigating the incident.

The U.S. has long said insurgents use false civilian death claims as a propaganda tool to undermine support for international forces and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Claims of civilian deaths can be tricky. Relatives of Afghan victims are given condolence payments by the government and the international military forces, providing an incentive to make false claims.

But Karzai has castigated Western military commanders over civilian deaths resulting from their raids. The Taliban and other insurgents use the deaths as leverage to turn Afghans away from the government, he says.

The top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, said Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition, Afghan government and U.N. would jointly investigate the Aug. 22 raid. A U.N. spokesman, Dan McNorton, said details of the investigation were still to be worked out.

But neither Karzai's office nor any Afghan officials have confirmed that the government will take part.

The U.N. mission said Sunday it had delivered aid to around 900 people affected by what it called "the recent tragedy" in Azizabad. It delivered three truckloads of food, cooking utensils, shelter materials and medicines to 150 families.

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