Sunday, April 6, 2008

Locals take up arms against foreign troops

Readers will recall from the week before last that perusal of the South Asian press often reveals civilian casualties which the Western press doesn't bother to publicize. In a similar exercise, today we find reports that Afghan civilians have not only suffered another scarcely-publicized airstrike, but that some of them have apparently taken up armed resistance against NATO forces. The revelation comes from Nuristan's Provincial Council chief Rehmatullah Rashedi:

Casualties feared in Nuristan airstrike
Abdul Moeed Hashmi

JALALABAD, Apr 6 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Officials feared heavy casualties in a ruthless bombardment of civilian houses by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Dowaba district of the troubled eastern Nuristan province.

A Paroon-based government functionary told Pajhwok Afghan News by phone NATO warplanes started pounding villages in the Shawak Valley this morning. Several people were feared dead and wounded in the airstrikes that were still ongoing.

While confirming the bombing, provincial intelligence boss Muhammad Daud Nadeem said they had not yet received a specific casualty figure. ...

Provincial Council head Rehmatullah Rashedi, describing the attack as very fierce, claimed receiving reports about the airlifting of 20 wounded civilians by ISAF forces. All the three villages in the valley had been struck, he alleged.

Foreign troop excesses had provoked the locals into taking up arms in self-defence, charged the public representative, who voiced grave concern at the suffering of the ordinary people due to inaccurate military operations.

Shawak resident Muhammad Nader, in a telephonic chat with this scribe, said the bombardment came after unidentified gunmen fired on ISAF helicopters landing in the restive area. (link)
Agence-France Presse also has this report:
US-led troops, Afghan forces inflict heavy Taliban losses

KABUL, April 6 (AFP) — US-led troops and Afghan security forces on Sunday killed a "significant" number of militants, the coalition said, a day after 15 Taliban were killed in attacks in the south.

The coalition did not give an exact toll but a local MP said the battle in eastern Nuristan province, in which warplanes were also deployed, left 20 people dead including some civilians. ...

The statement said the fighters were members of Hizb-e-Islami, an outlawed militant group loyal to the former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is said to have joined the Taliban.

It added that there were no civilian casualties. ...

Local lawmaker Rahmatullah Rashidi, however, said civilians were also killed in the coalition airstrikes.

"There have been heavy airstrikes since last evening," he said.

"According to the information I received, about 20 people including fighters and civilians have been killed," Rashidi told AFP.

He said about 40 other people including civilians had been injured. ... (link)

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