The Commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, US Marine Lt. General John Allen, center right, walks with Governor of Logar Province, Allhaj Mohammad Tahir Sabari, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, June, 8, 2012. Lt. General Allen apologized Friday for civilian deaths in a coalition airstrike earlier this week, the first confirmation by NATO forces that civilians were killed in the operation. (AP Photo/Deb Riechmann)
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s president said Saturday that the United States has put the two countries’ security pact at risk with a unilateral airstrike that killed 18 civilians, while a Taliban suicide bomber killed four French soldiers responding to a tipoff about a bomb hidden under a bridge.
The violence and the dispute highlight the muddled nature of the international mission in Afghanistan as NATO coalition countries try to shift to a training role in a country that is still very much at war.
The majority of NATO and U.S. forces are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014, but the exit is looking far from neat at the beginning of the hot summer months when fighting typically surges.
France is already rushing to get its combat forces out by the end of this year, and four deaths in one bombing could precipitate that pullout.
The U.S., meanwhile, has tried to create an orderly transition through a series of agreements covering detentions, village raids and its long-term commitment to Afghanistan. But the Wednesday airstrike by U.S. forces showed how quickly those deals divorce from the reality on the ground.
During the raid in the eastern province of Logar, troops from both countries came under fire while going after a local Taliban leader holed up in a village home. They fought back, and the Americans called in an airstrike. Only later did they discover that in addition to Login to read more