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By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER

AP

October 29, 2009

BERLIN — A top German general said Thursday that a NATO investigation of an airstrike against a pair of hijacked Afghan tanker trucks showed the attack was appropriate even though it led to civilian casualties.

Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, who is the general inspector of the German army, also said that the exact death toll could no longer be confirmed. (more…)

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By AFP

October 29, 2009

ISLAMABAD — A US-based rights group on Thursday urged Pakistan to ensure that sufficient supplies reach civilians trapped by a massive anti-Taliban offensive, warning of “catastrophe” without aid access.

Pakistan launched a ground and air operation designed to crush Taliban sanctuaries in the lawless South Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan, on October 17 and fears have been growing about the impact on the local population.

“People trying to get away from the fighting are already reporting civilian casualties and food shortages,” Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement. (more…)

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By AL JAZEERA

October 26, 2009

Two car bombs in central Baghdad have killed at least 136 people and wounded more than 550 others, police sources have told Al Jazeera.

The blasts went off less than a minute apart on Sunday, near the ministry of justice and the headquarters of the Baghdad provincial administration close to the Tigris river.

Firefighters pulled charred and mangled bodies off the streets near the provincial government building while burnt-out cars were piled up at the blast site.

There were so many wounded that civilian cars were pressed into service to bring the casualties to area hospitals. (more…)

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By AFP

October 25, 2009

KABUL — The NATO-led force in Afghanistan has launched an investigation into the deaths of four civilians it killed by firing on their vehicle in the southern city of Kandahar, the alliance force said.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said its troops opened fire Saturday “when the driver of a local vehicle failed to stop when approaching ISAF troops.”

“According to the initial report, ISAF troops tried repeatedly to signal the fast-approaching vehicle with passive measures, but fearing for their safety fired on the vehicle,” the ISAF statement said.

Afghan authorities had earlier said two women and a child were among the dead, while two or three other civilians were also wounded. (more…)

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Reuters

By MICHAEL HOLDEN

LONDON (Reuters) – An Afghan girl died after a box of information leaflets — dropped by a British military plane and intended to help the local population — landed on top of her, the Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

The MoD said it had launched an investigation into the incident which occurred three months ago in a rural area of Helmand in southern Afghanistan where British troops are battling Taliban insurgents.

Civilian casualties have become an extremely sensitive issue in Afghanistan, with U.S. commander General Stanley McChyrstal warning that protecting civilians from U.S. and NATO air strikes is essential to getting the upper hand in the conflict. (more…)

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The Canadian Press

By BILL GRAVELAND

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canadian troops in the dangerous Panjwaii district west of Kandahar city fired on a speeding motorcycle Thursday evening, killing an apparently unarmed driver and his passenger.

The incident occurred while a shura, or community meeting, was being held near a mosque in the village of Pay-e-Moluk.

Maj. Vance White, senior public affairs officer for Canada’s Task Force Kandahar, said Friday that a motorcycle carrying two “fighting-aged males” rapidly advanced and “showed intent to penetrate the security cordon.”

“Verbal and visual warnings were used and one aimed warning shot was fired close to the motorcycle to alert the driver to stop,” he said.

“The driver did not heed the warnings. In fact he accelerated, demonstrating known insurgent protocols. Soldiers then fired shots in order to stop the motorcycle.”

The two men sustained gunshot wounds and were immediately taken to the nearby Forward Operating Base at Sperwan Ghar and received treatment. But they died of their wounds about 40 minutes later. (more…)

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New York Times

By TAIMOOR SHAH and SABRINA TAVERNISE

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan tribal elders said eight people were killed in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, at least five of them civilians.

An American military spokeswoman, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, confirmed the airstrike, in the Nad Ali district of the troubled province of Helmand, but declined to estimate the number of casualties before a review of the area.

The strike killed a farmer and his family in the village of Khushal, according to Haji Talib, a district council member from the area. Three of the family’s guests were also killed, he said, but he did not know their identities. (more…)

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