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Afghanistan's president orders probe into NATO-led operation that sparked protests

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan has ordered an investigation into an operation Monday involving U.S. forces that destroyed a weapons cache in a volatile region close to the capital, sparking demonstrations that briefly closed a highway.

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah ordered the investigation into the operation, which caused no casualties or damage but enraged local residents, who said the munitions should have been relocated away from residential areas before being destroyed.

"An investigating delegation has been sent to the area and the Resolute Support commanders have been asked for an explanation," Abdullah's deputy spokesman Javid Faisal said, referring to NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

The NATO mission said U.S. forces had destroyed the munitions to prevent them from being used "to conduct attacks against Afghans and coalition forces."

NATO spokesman U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus said the operation took place in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province north of Kabul. Parwan police chief Gen. Mohammad Zaman said Afghan troops also took part in the operation, which involved ground and air forces.

Zaman said local residents held a demonstration in Charikar to protest the operation. "They were complaining that if there was a weapons cache that needed destroying it should have been destroyed far away from the residential areas," he said.

Faisal said demonstrators blocked a highway and only dispersed after Abdullah spoke with local leaders.

Elsewhere, 11 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush on an army convoy in the western Herat province bordering Iran. The convoy was traveling to neighboring Bagdhis province on Sunday when it came under attack by a large group of insurgents, said Hesanullah Hayat, spokesman for the Herat governor.

The western region has seen increased insurgent activity since the Taliban launched their warm-weather offensive in late April. Afghan security forces have struggled to contain the violence and have seen army and police casualties soar.

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