Thursday, May 19, 2011

Afghanistan Fighting Results in 28 Deaths

Last Updated: May 19. 2011 1:00AM

Afghan violence kills 28 in raid, rally, bombing

Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez
Associated Press

Kabul, Afghanistan— At least 28 people died in Afghanistan on Wednesday in three separate explosions of violence that illustrate the wide array of mayhem that wracks this country and the anger that surrounds U.S. actions here.

The first four died during a disputed night raid by U.S.-led troops who stormed a house shortly after midnight in the city of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, in Afghanistan's northwest.

The next 11 died in the riot that followed when 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest that those killed, including two women, had been civilians.

The last 13 died when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a bus that was carrying police academy trainers in the eastern province of Nangarhar, one of the most violent regions of the country. It was the latest in a series of suspected Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces.

The riot suggests more trouble ahead for NATO as coming troop drawdowns are likely to make the alliance increasingly reliant on quick-strike raids on insurgent hideouts. Such raids often produce results — most famously in the May 1 killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan — but deeply offend Afghans when they go wrong.

Demonstrators swarmed the road leading into the northern city of Taloqan early Wednesday, running through a cloud of dust as they pumped their fists and shouted insults at Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the United States.

The protesters claimed that all four killed were civilians gunned down in their home in the middle of the night by an international strike force. NATO said the dead were insurgents and that all four — including the women — had tried to fire weapons at a NATO-Afghan team as they searched the house for an insurgent arms trafficker.

Night raids targeting insurgents regularly stir up controversy. Some Afghans argue the raids, even if effective, are an affront to a culture that values the sanctity of the home.

Residents often charge that international forces go after the wrong people or mistreat civilians as they search compounds. The accusations have persisted despite NATO's success in reducing civilian casualties and its agreement to conduct night raids alongside Afghan forces.

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