Karzai ally killed in battle with NATO troops

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Officials in Afghanistan say NATO-led troops killed an ally of President Hamid Karzai during an overnight gunbattle in southern Afghanistan.

Australian special operations troops serving with the NATO force say one of their patrols was fired on from multiple locations and "returned fire in self-defense."

According to provincial police, the troops had surrounded the house of a friend of the Karzai ally (Ruzi Khan Barakzai). The friend called the former police chief and tribal leader for help, apparently fearing that Taliban fighters were outside preparing to attack. Shooting started when the man and his armed guards reached the compound. Two bodyguards were killed in addition to the tribal leader.

In a statement issued today, Karzai expressed regret over the killings. He said they were a result of a "misunderstanding between foreign and local forces."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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