In Afghanistan, More Attacks on Officials and a Protest Over a Deadly NATO Raidhttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/
KABUL, Afghanistan — Violence struck southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, with attacks on government and security officials. There were also allegations that NATO forces had killed two civilians in a night raid in the northeast, although the military sharply disputed that.
In Kandahar Province, a district police commander and three officers were killed when a suicide bomber exploded near a police patrol in the early evening.
In Zabul Province, gunmen assassinated Atta Khan Qadir Wal, 50, the director of the province’s office of tribal affairs, as he returned from evening prayers at a mosque in Qalat, the provincial capital. He was a highly respected elder, said Mohammad Jan Rasool Yar, a spokesman for the Zabul governor.
The disputed raid occurred early Wednesday in the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar Province, about nine miles from Jalalabad, the largest city in eastern Afghanistan. It was at least the third raid in the district in four months, and in each, the military’s account and that of local people have been sharply at odds, with local residents insisting that those killed were civilians and the military asserting that there were Taliban present.
Hundreds of suburban residents of Jalalabad blocked its main east-west highway on Wednesday to protest the killings.
Local residents said that the two men killed were both civilians, while a NATO military spokesman said that they had been shot by American troops only after opening fire themselves.
The troops were searching for a known Taliban commander living in the area, said Maj. Steven Cole, the NATO spokesman.
“The force received AK-47 fire from the compound courtyard,” he said. “Our force entered the courtyard and returned fire at one man firing the AK-47, killing him.”
When a second man tried to pick up his gun, he was also killed, Major Cole said, adding: “At least one person living in the compound on the scene identified one of the men killed as an insurgent commander.”
Three other men were detained, the military said; women and children in the compound were unharmed.
The Nangarhar provincial police complained that they had not been consulted, nor had the Afghan national security forces, and said that there was no evidence that those killed were combatants.
“The dead and captured were not armed members of the governmental opposition,” said Col. Ghafour Khan, the spokesman for the provincial police chief.
“They were father and son,” he said. “They were innocent civilians. The father was a farmer, and the son sold vegetables in the bazaar.” He added that the NATO forces should be held accountable “for the subsequent consequences.”
Major Cole said that all NATO operations were coordinated with Afghan security forces, but that did not mean that the provincial or district police were informed ahead of time. The coordination can be with Afghan military leaders at the national level or those who work for another Afghan security agency, he said.
A member of Parliament from Nangarhar Province, Safia Sidiqi, owns a house in the district where an elderly civilian man was killed in a raid on April 28. She denounced the latest raid as an unwarranted attack on civilians. She also accused the soldiers of beating the two men before they were shot to death.
“The Americans say that ‘We were looking for a Taliban commander by the name of Yusuf,’ ” she said. “This is just an excuse and in the name of these things, they go to people’s houses and kill innocent people.”
Sharifullah Sahak and Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul, and Afghan employees of The New York Times from Jalalabad and Kandahar, Afghanistan.