U.S. soldiers kill 4 Afghan civilians: rights group

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. soldiers killed four civilian members of the same family during a raid on Friday in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, an Afghan rights body said.

The soldiers also arrested 15 civilians during the pre-dawn raid in Khogiani district which lies in the foothills of the provincial capital Jalalabad, Lal Gul, the head of Afghanistan’s Human Rights Group said.

Those killed in the raid were an 85-year-old man, Mohammada Jan, two of his sons and a grandson, Gul told Reuters.

“The American soldiers blew up the gate of Mohammada Jan’s house and then martyred him along with his three family members,” Gul said.

“From there they went to several other houses, broke into them and arrested 15 civilians,” he added.

A provincial spokesman confirmed Gul’s accounts.

A U.S. military official confirmed the operation, but said coalition soldiers killed three militants after they came under fire and arrested 16 more militants.

They said there were no civilian casualties.

President Hamid Karzai and provincial officials said last week that scores of civilians had been killed recently in foreign troops operations in Afghanistan.

Facing resurgent Taliban attacks, growing dissatisfaction over rampant corruption as well as crime and lack of economic development, Karzai said foreign troops would fail in Afghanistan unless they took more care to protect non-combatants while hunting the Taliban.

Nearly 300 civilians have been killed in operations led by foreign forces this year alone, according to government officials, residents and aid groups.

Scores more have been killed in Taliban suicide and roadside bomb attacks.

Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest period since the

Taliban’s fall and this year is regarded as a crunch time for all sides involved in the conflict.

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