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Afghanistan president creates delegation to investigate civilian deaths

[JURIST] Afghan president Hamid Karzai [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday appointed a delegation [press release] to begin an investigation of ten civilian deaths, including eight schoolchildren, that are thought to have occurred during a raid by international forces in Kunar province. The raid in the Narang district occurred on December 26th, and allegedly involved NATO forces [WSJ report], though their involvement has not been confirmed. The same day that Karzai announced the formation of the special delegation, a UN committee released figures [AFP report] that show that civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2009 are up by 10% over deaths in 2008.

Civilian deaths as a result of US or coalition forces raids are a sensitive topic in US-Afghan relations. In June, General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, announced that protecting civilians [BBC report] is the top priority of US forces. In May, the Afghan parliament demanded that restrictions be placed [JURIST report] on airstrikes following an attack that resulted in the death of 140 civilians.

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