KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s president said Saturday that the United States failed to consult Afghan forces when calling in an air strike that killed 18 civilians, and warned that in the future his government will consider such actions as violating the country’s pact with Washington.

In the east, meanwhile, a Taliban suicide bomber disguised as a woman wearing a burqa killed four French soldiers when he blew himself up in a market.

Both President Hamid Karzai’s condemnation of the U.S. operation and the French deaths, as that country rushes to pull out its combat forces, were reminders that the international exit from Afghanistan is going to be far from orderly.

As more agreements are signed, promising Afghan sovereignty, and more NATO troops are assigned the role of trainers or advisers, the international mission in the county is becoming increasingly muddled.


Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said Karzai met with investigators earlier in the day and concluded that U.S. troops had called in Wednesday’s strike without coordinating with Afghan units.

The incident occurred during a nighttime raid on militants taking cover in a village. These raids are a major irritant in Karzai’s relationship with the international military coalition. Karzai says the raids put civilians at risk of injury or death. Military officials say such operations are key to capturing and killing Taliban leaders.

The U.S. and Afghanistan signed an agreement in April that put the Afghan government in charge of most such “special operations” — a move designed to resolve some of the long-standing tensions.

But when villagers in Logar province displayed the bodies of 18 civilians killed in a U.S. air strike Wednesday, Karzai quickly called on the international coalition to explain itself.

Faizi said the investigators told Karzai that Afghan forces had surrounded the house in question but that the U.S. troops decided not to wait for them to try to flush out the militants and called in aircraft instead. They discovered later that women, children and old men also were inside.

“The continuation of uncoordinated operations and civilian casualties are against the recent decisions made between Afghanistan and the United States,” Faizi said. He said the Afghan government felt that the United States was not holding to the promises it made in the night raids pact and a larger strategic partnership agreement signed afterward.

If another unapproved air strike occurs, he said, the Afghan government will have to consider the U.S. troops part of an “occupation.” Karzai had at times said the foreign troops risked becoming “occupiers” prior to the signing of the special operations pact.

According to a separate statement issued by the president’s office, Karzai met with the top U.S. military commander in the country and the U.S. ambassador, and told them that there had been multiple times since the signing of the broad long-term partnership last month that international air strikes had killed or injured civilians.

“Afghanistan signed a long-term strategic partnership with the United States with this condition and with this hope: that the villages and houses of the people would be safe,” the statement said.

It went on to say that U.S. Gen. John Allen promised Karzai that there would no longer be any air strikes against Afghan homes or in Afghan villages. NATO spokesmen did not immediately respond to calls to confirm the statement.


The U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized for the civilian deaths Friday and a NATO investigation ruled that the coalition forces were responsible for the unintended deaths of civilians. However, NATO officials have not said that they acted against the special operations agreement.

A spokesman for NATO forces in Afghanistan declined to comment on the Afghan findings, but said that the country’s forces had approved the larger Logar operation.

“The operation as a whole was approved by the Afghans. This was an Afghan/coalition operation,” Col. Gary Kolb said.

The attack on the French forces took place as they were responding to a report of a bomb planted under a bridge in the main market area of Kapisa province’s Nijrab district, said Qais Qadri, a spokesman for the provincial government.

The bomber walked up to the soldiers and detonated his explosives, Qadri said. France’s defense ministry confirmed the nationality of the dead. The ministry said they were on an operation supporting the Afghan army but did not provide details.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email.

The Kapisa bombing was the second deadly attack on NATO troops reported Saturday. NATO forces said earlier in the day that a service member was killed in a bomb attack in the east.

So far this year, 189 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan.