Night raids in Afghanistan 'provoke backlash'

US and Afghan security forces board a Chinook helicopter in Kandahar province southern Afghanistan - 14 August 2011 International forces in Afghanistan say night raids are a valuable tool in the fight against the Taliban insurgency.

The number of night raids on civilian homes by international forces in Afghanistan has increased substantially, according to a study.

The Open Society Foundation found that although US forces had improved their practices, the five-fold increase in raids had caused a storm of protest.

The biggest grievance of the Afghan government against foreign forces is the civilian casualties they cause.

The foreign forces say the raids are a valuable weapon against the insurgents.

Despite the political pressure from Kabul, the number of people questioned in their homes in night raids has risen rapidly in the last two years, up five-fold between 2009 and 10 and increasing still further this year.

'Creates violence'

Researchers for the report from the Open Society Foundation assessed that in recent months there may have been 40 raids a night happening across Afghanistan.

They quote one Afghan as saying: "They claim to be against terrorists, but what they are doing is terrorism. It creates violence."

The raids are justified by international forces as a valuable tool in their fight against the Afghan insurgency, in gathering intelligence and arresting suspects.

The report found that international forces have improved their practices so that the Afghan government has more control and women are respected more.

But public recognition of these improvements has been overshadowed by mounting anger over the higher number of raids.

The report says that the increase in raids has provoked a backlash, marring Afghan relations with international partners and complicating long-term strategic discussions.

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