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Afghan leader meets, thanks U.S. soldiers

Afghan President Hamid Karzai greets Col. Arthur Kandarian on Friday at Fort Campbell, Ky., as Defense Secretary Robert Gates watches. Kandarian’s troops are deploying to Afghanistan.

Associated Press via U.S. Army

Afghan President Hamid Karzai greets Col. Arthur Kandarian on Friday at Fort Campbell, Ky., as Defense Secretary Robert Gates watches. Kandarian’s troops are deploying to Afghanistan.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Afghan President Hamid Karzai capped a four-day U.S. visit on Friday by meeting American soldiers getting ready to fight in his country.

Karzai visited Fort Campbell on the Tennessee-Kentucky border, home of the 101st Airborne Division. The post has already sent three brigades to Afghanistan, and three more are expected to deploy this summer, for a total of about 20,000 troops.

The visit follows Karzai's stops with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a walk through Arlington National Cemetery during his stay for talks in Washington, D.C.

Reporters were not allowed into Karzai's meetings with soldiers. Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the 101st Airborne, said Karzai chose to visit his troops because of their key role in the next six to 12 months in Afghanistan.

Campbell said Karzai thanked troops and their families for their service in his country and met briefly with soldiers from the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who were leaving Friday to deploy to Kandahar Province. The southern province is the Taliban's birthplace and where the military is seeking this summer to take control from insurgents.

"He was able to talk to those soldiers just before they boarded the aircraft, shake all their hands and thank them for their selfless service," he said.

This was the Afghan leader's first trip to a U.S. military installation, according to Kelly DeWitt, a spokeswoman for Fort Campbell.

"What we tell our soldiers is that 2010-2011 is the year that we turn Afghanistan," Campbell said.

Raid protested

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, and that all were insurgents. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the eight killed in the Surkhrod district of Nangahar province included a local Taliban commander, 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.

Los Angeles Times

Fast facts

Raid protested

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, and that all were insurgents. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that the eight killed in the Surkhrod district of Nangahar province included a local Taliban commander 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 that 10 "innocent people" were killed in the village and that he "strongly condemned" the operation.

Times wires



. Fast facts

Raid protested

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, and that all were insurgents. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the eight killed in the Surkhrod district of Nangahar province included a local Taliban commander, 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.

Los Angeles Times

Afghan leader meets, thanks U.S. soldiers 05/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 11:44pm]
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