07/30/2007, 00.00
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Nato, “less powerful” bombs to reduce civilian victims

Atlantic alliance changes its strategy in the fight against the Taliban: less catastrophic bombs and increased analyses of attack timing to safeguard the civilian population: since the beginning of the year there have been over 230 civilian deaths.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Nato is considering the use of smaller bombs in Afghanistan to try to curb the rising number of civilians killed during operations against the Taleban. Commanders have also ordered troops to hold off attacking militants in some situations where civilians are at risk. Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer acknowledged civilian casualties had “hurt the alliance politically”, this is why Nato commanders are "working with weapon loads on aircraft to reduce collateral damage”, even if  “it is impossible to eliminate non-combatant deaths entirely”.

Aid agencies say western forces have killed 230 civilians so far this year. According to the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) “between 700 and 1,000 civilians were killed by both sides during 2006,”.

“We realise – continued Jaap de Hoop Scheffer - that if we cannot neutralise our enemy today without harming civilians, our enemy will give us the opportunity tomorrow, If that means going after a Taliban not on Wednesday but on Thursday, we will get him then”.

The secretary generals’ comments come a week after Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said civilian casualties were "not acceptable on a moral level" and "disastrous on a political level". Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, also recently warned western troops against treating Afghan lives cheaply.


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