60 killed in Nato operations across Afghanistan

Around 60 people were killed in battles between NATO troops and Taliban in southern Afghanistan this week, more than half of whom were insurgents and the rest civilians, the government said on Friday.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in southern Afghanistan said earlier 12 civilians were killed in a series of strikes on Tuesday, including a bombing raid. President Hamid Karzai has appointed a commission to investigate the civilian casualties amid claims that at least 60 civilians were killed.
“The initial reports we have is 60 people were killed in the bombing and more than half of them are insurgents and the rest are civilians,” interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.
ISAF has said 48 Taliban were killed in three skirmishes on Tuesday.
“The president has appointed a delegation to go to the area and investigate the case. Once the delegation finishes its investigation, we will be able to give you exact figures on the casualty breakdown,” Bashary told AFP. An ISAF spokesman in the southern province of Kandahar told AFP Friday that the force could confirm that at least 12 civilians were killed.
“We can confirm at least 12 deaths and we are working with the Afghan ministry of defence to conduct further investigations,” spokesman Captain Andre Salloum told AFP.
Salloum said the force deeply regretted any civilians deaths in its operations.
The 12 were identified by troops on the ground after one incident, he said. “As soon as the battle ended, the troops on the ground were able to identify 12 civilians.”
The possibility that there were others would be part of an investigation that could come to a conclusion in about a week, he said.
The fighting was in an area around Panjwayi where ISAF and Afghan troops conducted a major anti-Taliban operation in September.
ISAF said Operation Medusa had delivered Taliban fighters, who were entrenching themselves in the area, their biggest defeat since they were removed from government in late 2001.
Tuesday’s clashes were against groups of Taliban who were re-infiltrating, it said.
A government-appointed commission found that 53 civilians were killed during Operation Medusa.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2006