Raid kills Afghan civilians
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 30, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan - Hundreds of infuriated protesters carrying the bodies of five Afghans killed in a U.S.-led raid - including the shrouded corpses of a woman and teenage girl - blocked a highway in eastern Afghanistan with rocks and felled trees, denouncing their government and demanding an explanation.
"Their operation was based on incorrect reports, and they carried out a cruel attack on these houses, " Akhtar Mohammad, a resident of the Bati Kot district in Nangarhar province, said at the protest. "We are not the enemy, we are not al-Qaida. Why are they attacking us?"
The protesters focused their anger on President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as well as the governor of Nangarhar, chanting, "Death to Bush" and "Death to Karzai!"
Military killings of civilians have been eroding Afghan support for international forces and the shaky U.S.-backed government, and Sunday's protest took place on the same road where a U.S. Marine convoy - fleeing after a suicide car bombing on March 4 - fired indiscriminately on vehicles and pedestrians, killing 12 people.
Acting on a tip indicating that a cell was planning three suicide car bomb attacks against coalition forces in the coming weeks, coalition and Afghan forces jointly raided a compound Sunday in the Bati Kot district, a coalition statement said.
The coalition said four militants, an adult woman and a teenage girl were killed and another child and teenage girl were wounded and being treated. The coalition said it found bombmaking materials and made several arrests in the area.
The United States blamed insurgents for the loss of innocent lives.
"It is extremely unfortunate that militants put others' lives in danger by hiding among their families, " said U.S. Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman.
Abdul Mohammad, a Nangarhar police investigator, said five civilians were killed, including two women. The differing figures could not immediately be reconciled, and it could not be verified whether the dead men were militants.
Afghan officials have repeatedly pleaded with the United States and NATO to take care during operations that might harm civilians.
The troubled eastern provinces along the Pakistan border are known to be home to insurgents from the Taliban and other militant groups.
State of education
Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar marked Afghanistan's Education Day on Sunday with a sobering review of the system.
5.4-million approximate number of students enrolled in school last year.
35 percent of students who were girls.
60 percent of students attending classes in tents or outside last year.
800,000 new students due to enroll this year.
1,100 schools being built or planned.
85 students and teachers killed last year in attacks blamed on insurgents who oppose education for girls and teaching boys anything other than religion.
187 schools insurgents burned down last year.
350 schools closed last year because of security concerns.
190 bombing, arson and shooting attacks on teachers, school officials, students and schools last year, according to Human Rights Watch.
[Last modified April 30, 2007, 02:21:52]
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