KABUL (AP) – NATO and Afghan forces raided a lawmaker’s home and fatally shot the woman’s brother-in-law during a nighttime operation in eastern Afghanistan, sending hundreds of people into the streets shouting “Death to America!” in protest, the lawmaker said Thursday.
The military operation tapped into a well of resentment about raids by American and local troops that have been known to wound or kill ivilians as well as insurgents.
After a storm of complaints from Afghan people, NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan issued a directive earlier this year to avoid night raids when possible.
Safiya Sidiqi, the member of parliament whose brother-in-law was killed, said family members told her that about 100 NATO soldiers stormed her home, near the city of Jalalabad, about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. She was not home at the time.
Hundreds gathered on streets near Jalalabad on Thursday, burning tires and shouting anti-U.S. slogans. A crowd gathered around the body, covered in a white sheet, and cried “Long live Islam!”
NATO said Thursday that a joint operation with Afghan forces killed “one armed individual while pursuing a Taliban facilitator” on Wednesday night. The person killed ignored demands given in English and through an Afghan interpreter to lower his weapon, NATO said, without giving details of the person’s identity.
Sidiqi said the soldiers broke the windows of her home, entered and pulled out 15 members of her family who were then photographed and fingerprinted. Eventually, she said, they opened fire on her brother-in-law. She called the raid “barbaric.”
Sidiqi did not respond specifically to questions about whether her brother-in-law was armed.
“Whatever happened, it was the mistake of NATO,” she told The Associated Press. “They have abused my family.” Police are investigating the raid, said Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan.
Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. and other international forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan. Public outrage over such deaths prompted the top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal last year to tighten the rules on the use of airstrikes and other weaponry if civilians are at risk.
In January, McChrystal ordered coalition forces to avoid night raids when possible, and to bring Afghan troops along with them if they do enter homes after dark.
Though McChrystal’s order fell short of the complete ban on night raids sought by President Hamid Karzai, it reflects new sensitivities by NATO at a time when the coalition is pursuing a strategy of gaining Afghan public trust in a bid to rout Taliban extremists.
Also Thursday, a joint NATO-Afghan operation captured members of the Haqqani network, an autonomous Afghan Taliban faction with close ties to Al Qaeda, and two other militants in Khost province.
NATO said the two Haqqani members were responsible for arming fighters and placing roadside bombs.