KABUL, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai marked the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks by insisting the origins of the continued Taliban insurgency are not in Afghanistan and urging more caution by the NATO coalition to avoid civilian deaths.
Karzai did not mention Pakistan, but it was clear he was referring to insurgent sanctuaries there, saying the war should "focus on the sources and the origins of terrorism." He said by focusing on Afghanistan, the coalition endangers civilians freed from Taliban rule in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks. He urged NATO to do everything to avoid civilian deaths. "The villages of Afghanistan are not the origins and the sanctuaries of terrorists," Karzai said. "Innocent Afghan people should not be the victims in the fight against terrorism."
Civilian deaths are a flash point issue in Afghanistan because they undermine local support for the war. NATO says it is doing all it can to avoid innocent casualties but says insurgents often use civilians as human shields during attacks.
Afghans set fire to tires in the streets and shouted "Death to America" for a second day Saturday despite a decision by Florida pastor Terry Jones to abandon plans to burn copies of the Quran. In Logar province near Kabul, police fired warning shots to prevent protesters from storming the governor's residence in the provincial capital of Puli Alam. Villagers set fire to tires and blocked the main highway to Pakistan, according to a provincial spokesman. A police official estimated the crowd at more than 10,000.
Jones, who appeared yesterday on NBC's "Today" show, said: "We feel that God is telling us to stop." Pressed on whether his church would ever burn the Islamic holy book, he said: "Not today, not ever. We're not going to go back and do it. It is totally canceled."