Karzai says U.S. credibility at stake in wake civilian Afghan deaths

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New York, Sept.25 : Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has warned the United States that its credibility is at stake in the wake of the killing of innocent Afghans by NATO troops.

"Terrorist forces have significantly increased their attacks and brutality and enjoyed freedom in their sanctuaries. Civilian casualties can seriously undermine the legitimacy of fighting terrorism and the credibility of the Afghan people's partnership with the international community," Karzai told the UN General Assembly's annual gathering of world leaders.

He, however, called for even more foreign soldiers, echoing the views of U.S. generals, who said another 10,000 combat troops are urgently needed.

According to the Globe and Mail, last month, more than 90 civilians, including 60 children, were killed when U.S. warplanes bombed an extended-family gathering after flawed intelligence targeted the group as jihadists.

Although it is major air strikes like last month's that garner international headlines, the ongoing killings of civilians by foreign troops, including incidents involving Canadian soldiers, also saps Afghan support for the counterinsurgency.

Karzai said there was an urgent need "for a redoubling of efforts by the international community aimed at enabling the Afghan national security institutions, both the army and the police, to take on a greater share of the war against terrorism and the protection of our people."

The "Afghanization of the military operations is vital if the problem of civilian casualties is to be addressed effectively," he said.

Meanwhile, several countries with major combat contributions in southern Afghanistan, including Canada, have already announced they are pulling out.

The Netherlands intends to cease combat operations in 2010 and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced he will bring Canada's troops home.

ANI

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