Saturday, November 8, 2008

US official: Taliban sought wedding party deaths

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban fighters held a wedding party captive and fired on U.S. forces in an attack designed to draw U.S. airstrikes on civilians and stoke anti-American sentiment, a U.S. official said Friday citing "firsthand" reports.

The official declined to give further details of the reported events leading to the U.S. bombing Monday in the southern Afghan village Wech Baghtu, where dozens of civilians and insurgents were killed.

But such a tactic by the Taliban could mean significant complications for U.S. forces and allies — forcing them to break off attacks and pursuit of extremists in populated areas for fear that the Taliban would try to maximum civilian casualties.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan have become an increasing point of tension between Washington and President Hamid Karzai and could be one of the first major challenges for President-elect Barack Obama.

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