“War is deceit” – Muhammad (Bukhari 4.52.267)
By Chris Brummitt for the Associated Press:
KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan accused Taliban militants Monday of falsely reporting civilian casualties to discredit Afghan and international forces. Six insurgents and two foreign soldiers, meanwhile, were killed in fresh fighting.
The U.S.-led coalition made the claim Monday after Afghan elders alleged that up to 18 civilians were killed late Sunday by coalition troops in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold.
Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman, said credible intelligence
suggested the claims were fabricated as part of a propaganda war. “The insurgents continue to follow their pattern of falsely reporting civilian casualties,” she said.
NATO-led forces, whose operations in Helmand are being supported by U.S.-led
coalition troops and aircraft, insist that no noncombatants were killed in the fighting. The claims could not be independently verified due to the remoteness of the area where the clash took place.
Reports of civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly deplored such deaths, saying they undermine efforts to win the trust of the people.