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Afghans say U.S. fired shots at civilians

first_imgBARIKAW, Afghanistan – An explosives-rigged minivan crashed into a convoy of Marines that U.S. officials said also came under fire from militant gunmen Sunday. As many as 10 people were killed and 34 wounded as the convoy made a frenzied escape, and injured Afghans said the Americans fired on civilian cars and pedestrians as they sped away. U.S. officials said militant gunfire may have killed or injured civilians, but wounded Afghans and Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said most of the bullets were American. Hundreds of angry Afghans protested near the blast site, denouncing the U.S. presence. As the Americans fled, they treated every person and vehicle along the busy, tree-lined highway as a potential attacker, said Mohammad Khan Katawazi, the district chief of Shinwar in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. “I saw them (Americans) turning and firing in this direction, then turning and firing in that direction,” said Ahmed Najib, a 23-year-old hit by a bullet in his right shoulder. “I saw a farmer shot by the Americans.” Lt. Col. David Accetta, the top U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said gunmen may have fired on U.S. forces at numerous points during the escape. He said it was not yet clear how the casualties happened, though he left open the possibility that U.S. forces had shot civilians. The accusation that U.S. forces killed or wounded so many Afghans was expected to cause an uproar in a country in which an untold number of civilians have been killed by international forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pleaded repeatedly for Western troops not to harm civilians, and in December he wept during a speech lamenting civilian deaths at the hands of foreign forces. Nine witnesses – including five hospitalized Afghans recuperating from bullet wounds – told The Associated Press that U.S. forces fired indiscriminately along at least six miles of one of eastern Afghanistan’s busiest highways – a route often filled not only with cars and trucks, but also Afghans on foot and on bicycles. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more