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In brief: Karzai says raid killed 16 civilians

Mon., Jan. 26, 2009

President Hamid Karzai condemned a U.S. operation he said killed 16 Afghan civilians, while hundreds of villagers denounced the American military during an angry demonstration Sunday.

Karzai said the killing of innocent Afghans during U.S. military operations “is strengthening the terrorists.”

He also announced that his Ministry of Defense sent Washington a draft technical agreement that seeks to give Afghanistan more oversight over U.S. military operations.

Karzai’s latest criticism follows a Saturday raid in Laghman province that the U.S. says killed 15 armed militants, including a woman with an RPG, but that Afghan officials say killed civilians. Two women and three children were among the 16 dead civilians, Karzai said in a statement.

In Laghman’s capital, hundreds of angry demonstrators denounced the U.S. military Sunday and demanded an end to overnight raids. U.S. military leaders, victims’ relatives and Afghan officials – including two top Karzai advisers – met at the governor’s compound to discuss the issue, Gov. Latifullah Mashal said.

A U.S. investigative team that had planned to travel to the village – 40 miles northeast of the capital, Kabul – was canceled Sunday because of bad weather.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Rebels’ last major stronghold seized

Sri Lankan forces captured the Tamil Tigers’ last major stronghold Sunday, confining the rebels to a narrow slice of jungle and ending their decade-long domination of the country’s north.

Army commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said the bloody ethnic separatist war that has plagued this Indian Ocean island nation since 1983 was nearly over.

But analysts warn that it is simply shifting from a conventional fight between two armies to a guerrilla war likely to be fought among the estimated 250,000 displaced civilians reportedly trapped in the northern jungles with the rebels.


Officials begin cleanup efforts

French authorities deployed 10,000 cleanup and recovery workers and Spain let evacuated villagers return home Sunday a day after deadly storms pounded southwest France and northeast Spain.

Authorities in Spain reported at least 12 deaths linked to the storm, including four children crushed as a sports facility buckled in high winds in Barcelona. In France, at least eight people died – including two couples who died of carbon-monoxide poisoning from generators they used.

In Spain, aircraft battled forest fires near the eastern town of La Nucia that the town’s mayor said was caused when winds blew down a high-tension power pylon in a wooded area.

Ankara, Turkey

Avalanche kills 10 Turkish hikers

An avalanche slammed into a group of Turkish hikers on a trip to a remote mountain plateau on Sunday, dragging them more than 1,640 feet into a valley and fatally burying 10.

The members of a skiing and mountaineering club were taking part in an annual winter sports celebration on 7,200-foot Mount Zigana. Seventeen were hiking single-file when the avalanche swept into them.

From wire reports

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