In Afghanistan, a Clash Over Counting Casualties

Haji Nasrullah, a tribal leader in Parmekan in western Afghanistan i i

hide captionHaji Nasrullah, a tribal leader in Parmekan in western Afghanistan, stands in front of his home, which was demolished in an American bombing two weeks ago.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR
Haji Nasrullah, a tribal leader in Parmekan in western Afghanistan

Haji Nasrullah, a tribal leader in Parmekan in western Afghanistan, stands in front of his home, which was demolished in an American bombing two weeks ago.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR

A battle with U.S. troops in Afghanistan's western Herat province that ended April 30 left scores dead. But exactly who was killed is the subject of a fierce debate that has eroded Afghan support for U.S. forces there.

U.S. military officials say 130 Taliban were killed, and they blame the Taliban for the civilian deaths, saying it uses innocent Afghans as human shields.

But Afghan government and human rights officials say nearly 50 civilians, many of them women and children, died in aerial bombings or drowned trying to flee an attack on an area that has no Taliban. And local Afghans say American indifference to Afghan culture is to blame.

In an incident in the Zeer Kooh region of western Afghanistan, Afghans say U.S. forces claimed that Taliban and al-Qaida militants were hiding in the area and conducted door-to-door searches, forcibly entering homes.

In Afghan culture, in which Pashtun men refuse to let any unrelated men see their wives and daughters, such an affront can only be answered with a fight to the death.

Residents fought back, attacking U.S. forces with stones, shovels and Kalashnikovs. Hours later, they say, American warplanes began dropping bombs.

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