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Afghan president condemns U.S. airstrike that killed a child

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai said U.S. forces had bombed a home in southern Afghanistan, killing a small child and wounding two women, and condemned the attack as a sign of disregard for civilian lives, his spokesman said on Thursday.

The strike could not have come at a worse time, as Karzai is engaged in a stand-off with the U.S. government over a bilateral security agreement that will decide whether U.S. troop stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

"It shows that U.S. forces have no respect for the decisions of the Loya Jirga and life of civilians in Afghanistan," said Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi.

"If such operations continue, there will be no agreement."

The United States has threatened to pull its troops out of Afghanistan after 2014 - an outcome known as the "zero option", as it did in Iraq two years ago - unless a deal is clinched by the end of this year,

Karzai, however, has so far refused to sign, despite getting approval from the Loya Jirga last week. The council almost unanimously advised him to seal the agreement promptly, saying this was in the national interest.

Karzai instead has refused and made additional demands on the United States, including the return of all Afghan prisoners from its prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The child killed in Thursday's bombing was two or three years old, Faizi said, adding that the attack took place after the targeted individual ran into a home for safety.

"They give no importance to the life of civilians. They are killing civilians like flies," Faizi said.

"That should have been a red line for them... Even if he was an insurgent they shouldn't have fired on the house."

A man was killed in a separate strike in the same province on Thursday afternoon, Faizi added. Local officials had yet to confirm whether the victim was an insurgent or not.

(Reporting by Jessica Donati and Mirwais Harooni; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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