U.S. troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar early Monday, killing and wounding civilians, and igniting angry anti-American demonstrations in a city where winning over Afghan support is pivotal to the war effort.
The shooting, which killed as many as five civilians and wounded 18, occurred on the eve of the most important offensive of the war. In the coming weeks, thousands of U.S., NATO and Afghan troops are expected to try to take control of the Kandahar region, the spiritual home of the Taliban, The New York Times reported.
Although the military command issued an apology, saying it "deeply regrets the tragic loss of life," Monday’s incident cast fresh doubts on Operation Omid, billed as the pivotal offensive of the war, which will see tens of thousands of NATO troops attempt to seize control of Kandahar.
NATO officials were already struggling to win support for the offensive from ordinary Afghans and tribal elders who had expressed concern over the potential for “collateral damage,” according to Globe and Mail.