APP : Karzai urges U.S. to curb air strikes

Monday, October 29, 2007

Karzai urges U.S. to curb air strikes

APP | October 29, 2007

NEW YORK -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that the U.S. military curtail its use of air strikes against militants in his country because they are killing too many civilians.

In an interview with a major US television network, Karzai said he has already communicated this message privately to President George W. Bush.

“The United States and the Coalition Forces are not [killing civilians] deliberately. The United States is here to help the Afghan people,” Karzai tells Pelley.

“The Afghan people understand that mistakes are made. But five years on, six years on, definitely, very clearly, they cannot comprehend as to why there is still a need for air power,” he said on CBS network’s Sunday programme “60 Minutes”.

The Afghan president said there are “alternatives” to air raids.

“You’re demanding [a cutback]?” CBS correspondent Scott Pelley asked. “Absolutely,” said Karzai.

Karzai appears in a story correspondent Pelley reported on the death of nine civilians—four generations of one family—last March in the province of Kapisa. Their deaths were the result of two 2,000-lb. “That is a mistake. I know that,.A careless mistake, but not deliberate,” says Karzai.

The network said hundreds of civilians have been killed this year in NATO operations against Taliban militants, however the exact figure is impossible to establish as NATO forces dispute numbers given by aid workers and Afghan officials.