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NATO Fire Kills 4 Unarmed Afghans

VOA News 20 April 2010

NATO troops have opened fire on a vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, killing four unarmed Afghans.

The incident happened late Monday in Khost province.

NATO said the vehicle's occupants had ignored warnings to stop. The alliance initially said two of the dead were "known insurgents," but later acknowledged all may have been civilians.

Afghan officials say all four killed were civilians, including two students.

In a statement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings and ordered an investigation into the incident. Mr. Karzai called on international forces in Afghanistan to avoid civilian casualties.

Earlier this month, NATO troops opened fire on a bus in southern Afghanistan, killing at least four civilians and sparking angry anti-American protests.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials said Tuesday the deputy mayor of the southern city of Kandahar, Azizullah Yarmal, was shot and killed Monday while praying at a mosque. A provincial spokesman said the killers have not been caught.

The Taliban has a strong presence in Kandahar, ruling the country from the city between 1996 and 2001.

Kandahar province spokesman Zalmai Ayubi told the Associated Press the deputy mayor's assassination is part of an insurgency strategy to target and intimidate government officials.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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