Taliban rule in Kunduz has been replaced with violent crime and security fears among residents. REUTERS/Nasir Wakif
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Since U.S. forces began stepping up airstrikes against the Taliban, Kunduz shopkeeper Najibullah no longer fears another insurgent takeover of the northern Afghan city.With Afghan forces improving and on the offensive, U.S. commanders have more freedom to attack the Taliban and insurgents no longer threaten any major urban centers.Last month, locals say 16 people were killed by U.S. helicopters in a night raid near the villages of Qatl-e-Am and Gharow Qushlaq in Chahardara district, an area largely controlled by the Taliban.A U.S. investigation concluded there was no evidence any civilians were killed.In a briefing this week, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said they go to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid civilian casualties and have "a rigorous process" to investigate allegations.A U.S. investigation found no evidence of any civilian casualties but Capt. Thomas Gresback, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said they would engage in dialogue with anyone who came forward with information.The U.S. military says the Taliban deliberately shelters in houses and schools but the issue of civiliandeaths, over which former Afghan President Hamid Karzai repeatedly clashed with Washington, causes deep resentment, sapping support for the government.
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