Karzai Blames US in 16 Civilian Deaths

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2009 1:56 PM CST
Afghan villagers burn US flag during a rally against the US and Afghan governments after a US operation in their village, in Mehterlam, Laghman province, Afghanistan on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
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(Newser) – President Hamid Karzai condemned a US operation he said killed 16 Afghan civilians today, even as his Ministry of Defense sent Washington a draft agreement that seeks to give Afghanistan more oversight over US military operations. The increased rhetoric comes as hundreds of villagers denounced the American military during an angry demonstration today. Karzai said the killing of innocent Afghans "is strengthening the terrorists."

Karzai in recent weeks has increasingly lashed out at his Western backers over civilian casualties, even as US politicians and a top NATO official have criticized Karzai for the slow pace of progress. The back-and-forth comes as Barack Obama's new administration decides whether to support Karzai as he seeks re-election later this year. Civilian deaths during US operations have been a huge point of friction between the Afghan government and US and NATO militaries.