Karzai wants immediate halt to Nato night raids
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to Nato-led night raids after the military insisted the operations will continue despite the recent death of a pregnant woman.
Karzai has led public criticism of the controversial raids, saying they endanger lives and harass local communities, and repeatedly called on US-led international forces to stop entering Afghan homes.
The latest spat comes after the pregnant wife of an anti-drugs official was killed during a raid in the eastern Paktia province in the early hours of Saturday when Nato-led forces returned gunfire coming from a compound.
Nato has defended the operations as the safest way of targeting insurgent leaders, insisting they will continue but with the increasing involvement of Afghan special forces.
"The president of Afghanistan wants an immediate halt to the night raids and house searches of Afghans," presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said.
"He doesn't want any foreigner to go to the homes of Afghans and search their homes."
"We don't want the war on terrorism to be fought inside people's houses," he added.
The spokesman for Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, said in 85 percent of night raids no shot is fired and they cause less than one percent of civilian casualties.
The raid on Saturday targeted a leader of the Taliban-linked Haqqani militant network, Nato said, but the Paktia provincial governor described it as an "arbitrary operation".
According to the United Nations, the number of civilians killed in violence in Afghanistan rose by 15 percent in the first six months of this year to 1,462, with insurgents blamed for 80 percent of the killings.