| 12.1°C Belfast

Four Nato troops killed by Taliban

Close

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his officials were not consulted ahead of an air strike which killed 18 civilians

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his officials were not consulted ahead of an air strike which killed 18 civilians

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his officials were not consulted ahead of an air strike which killed 18 civilians

Afghanistan's president said that the United States failed to consult Afghan forces when calling in an airstrike that killed 18 civilians, and warned that in the future his government will consider such actions as violating the country's pact with Washington.

In the east, meanwhile, a Taliban suicide bomber disguised as a woman wearing a burqa killed four French soldiers when he blew himself up in a market.

Both President Hamid Karzai's condemnation of the US operation and the French deaths as that country rushes to pull out its combat forces were reminders that the international exit from Afghanistan may be far from orderly.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said that Mr Karzai met investigators earlier in the day and concluded that US troops had called in Wednesday's strike without co-ordinating with Afghan units.

The incident occurred during a night-time raid on militants taking cover in a village. These raids are a major irritant in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's relationship with the international military coalition. Mr Karzai says the raids put civilians at risk of injury or death. Military officials say such operations are key to capturing and killing Taliban leaders.

The US and Afghanistan signed an agreement in April that put the Afghan government in charge of most such "special operations" - a move designed to resolve some of the long-standing tensions.

But when villagers in Logar province displayed the bodies of 18 civilians killed in a US airstrike on Wednesday, Mr Karzai quickly called on the international coalition to explain itself. Mr Faizi said that the investigators told the president that Afghan forces had surrounded the house in question but that the US troops decided not to wait for them to try to flush out the militants and called in aircraft instead. They only discovered later that there had also been women, children and old men inside.

"This airstrike was a one-sided decision, and not coordinated with Afghan security forces," Mr Faizi said. He said that Mr Karzai and his advisers decided after hearing the investigators' report that they would consider such actions in the future as a breach of the special operations pact.

"The continuation of unco-ordinated operations and civilian casualties are against the recent decisions made between Afghanistan and the United States," Mr Faizi said. He said the Afghan government felt that the United States was betraying the promises it made in the night raids pact and a larger strategic partnership agreement signed afterwards.

The US commander in Afghanistan apologised for the civilian deaths on Friday and a Nato investigation ruled that the coalition forces were responsible for the unintended deaths of civilians. However, Nato officials have not said that they acted against the special operations agreement.

PA