KABUL – Angry demonstrations erupted in eastern Afghanistan on Friday as villagers accused Western troops of killing up to 11 civilians in an overnight raid. NATO said eight people were killed, but that all were insurgents.

The scenario was a familiar one: Coalition and Afghan forces sweep down on a compound at night in search of Taliban operatives. A firefight breaks out, and the identities of the dead are then furiously contested.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said the eight men killed in the confrontation in the Surkhrod district of Nangahar province included a Taliban subcommander, and that a weapons cache was recovered at the scene.

Villagers, though, described the dead as civilians, including five members of one family and four from another.

A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said 10 “innocent people” had been killed. The discrepancies in the number reported dead could not be immediately reconciled.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, has sought to limit the use of night raids because confusion in the dark can carry lethal consequences.


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