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Afghan leader raises concerns

President Karzai uneasy about civilian casualties, military operations in villages.

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai pressed America’s top military leader Monday on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and preparations to pour up to 30,000 more forces into the country, reflecting Karzai’s concerns over civilian casualties and operations in villages.

Karzai asked Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what kinds of operations the newly deployed troops would carry out and told him that the Afghan government should be consulted about those missions.

The Afghan president, stinging from a series of civilian casualties in U.S. military operations in recent years, said he doubts that sending more American forces into Afghan villages will tamp down the insurgency, and he has questioned a U.S. plan to deploy 3,500 U.S. forces in two provinces on Kabul’s doorstep next month.

Karzai told Mullen that U.S. troops must take more care during operations in Afghan villages and stop searching homes. He asked the chairman to investigate allegations that U.S. forces killed three civilians in a raid last week in Khost province, a reflection of increasing concern about civilian casualties. The U.S. says three militants were killed.

Karzai wants more forces deployed along the Afghan border to combat insurgents infiltrating from Pakistan, where suspected U.S. missile strikes Monday killed eight people in a region where al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are believed hiding.

The identities of those killed in the two attacks — the latest in a stepped-up American campaign in the lawless region — were not immediately known.

During the weekend, Mullen said the U.S. would send an additional 20,000 to 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by summer — the largest number ever given by a top military leader — in an increase in force that reflects the deteriorating security situation around the country more than seven years after the U.S. invasion.

President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of ending the war in Iraq and refocusing American’s military efforts on the Afghanistan region.

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