US fails to probe Afghan civilian deaths - Amnesty report

A boy injured in a bombing is treated at Ghanikhel district hospital after two roadside bombs struck the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on 28 November 2013 Many Afghan civilians are injured and killed as a result of roadside bombs laid by the Taliban

The US has failed to properly investigate Afghan civilian deaths caused by their forces, human rights group Amnesty International says in a new report.

Amnesty International alleges that even potential war crimes have gone uninvestigated and unpunished.

The report focused primarily on air strikes and night raids carried out by US forces between 2009 and 2013.

Nato told the AP news agency it would review the report and respond later.

A spokesman told AP they take allegations of civilian casualties extremely seriously and fully investigate all reports.

The number of civilians killed and wounded in the conflict in Afghanistan rose 14% last year, UN figures show. Nearly 3,000 civilians were killed and more than 5,600 were injured in 2013.

Most casualties in 2013 were a result of roadside bombs laid by the Taliban or getting caught in the crossfire during ground battles between Taliban-led insurgents and Afghan forces.

But the issue of civilian casualties caused by Nato is highly sensitive in Afghanistan and has long been a source of tension between Nato forces and outgoing President Hamid Karzai.

Last year the Afghan leader banned foreign air strikes in residential areas after civilians were mistakenly killed in a night raid.

But Amnesty's 84-page report, Left in the Dark, focused on how the US investigates such attacks and what it describes as the failure of accountability for US military operations in Afghanistan.

"Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses," said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director.

It gathered accounts from 125 eyewitnesses of 10 incidents between 2009 and 2013, in which it says at least 140 civilians died during US military strikes.

All Nato combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The report also urges the Afghan government to establish a mechanism to investigate abuses by Afghan forces who take on full combat responsibility at the end of 2014.

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