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6 May, 2009 10:11

Three presidents to discuss dead Afghan civilians

Afghanistan’s President has ordered an investigation into an alleged 30 civilians killed by US air raids in the west of the country. Meanwhile, the latest reports claim that the raid left124 people dead.

That new number of fatalities said to have been brought about by the latest NATO bombing in the Farah province, was cited by regional police chief Abdul Ghafar Watandar, according to the Ria Novosti news agency.

“It’s difficult to say at the moment whose bodies these are – childrens', mens', or womens'. When it is defined, results will be made public,” Watandar said.

According to him, at least 12 civilians were wounded, and 25 militants were killed during the raid as well.

The governor of Farah Province says villagers brought the bodies of alleged victims to his office. They were mainly women and children.

The US troops did confirm that the battle had taken place, but they have not yet confirmed the death of the civilians.

A spokesman for the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Greg Julian, said that apparently there was an insurgent attack on Afghan national army forces which asked for support from coalition troops.

At the moment, civilian casualties are the source of real stress and tension between the US coalition forces in Afghanistan and the local population.

The number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan has actually soared during the past year, with the US planning to double its military presence in the country.

These reports of civilian casualties coming from Afghanistan are becoming harder for the US to bear responsibility for, both at home and abroad.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the US to win the crucial PR campaign that every country conducting war abroad needs to win, such the one the US is facing in escalating the war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's leader Asif Ali Zardari are currently in Washington for the first talks with U.S. president Barack Obama after his inauguration.

Karzai has stressed more than once that the stability of Afghanistan really depends on whether the Taliban’s safe havens in Pakistan are broken.

Besides the American president, both Middle Asian leaders are going to meet top congressional officials and American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama said this meeting comes at a critical time, when US officials say the situation in Pakistan is becoming more grave by the day, and now the three leaders will need not to just be playing the blame game, but coming up with a solution to the problem.