Karzai seeks greater Afghan role in face of civilian casualties

Karzai seeks greater Afghan role in face of civilian casualtiesNew York  - Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday said his country's security forces should take on more responsibilities to prevent mounting civilian casualties that have undermined local support for the US and NATO-led battle against al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Afghanistan.

Karzai also warned that terrorist attacks were spreading "like wildfire" throughout the region and urged international cooperation to help dismantle strongholds along the Afghan-Pakistan border, in an address before the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Civilian casualties at the hands of foreign troops have increased over the summer amid an uptick in attacks by Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in the country, and led to strained relations between the Afghan government and NATO-led forces.

More than 90 civilians were killed last month in a US military airstrike in a western province, according to Afghan government and UN investigative teams.

"'Afghanisation' of the military operations is vital if the problem of civilian casualties is to be addressed effectively," Karzai said.

Civilian deaths at the hands of international forces "can seriously undermine the legitimacy of fighting terrorism and the credibility of the Afghan people's partnership with the international commmunity," he said. (dpa)

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