Sunday, March 1, 2009

Canadians terrorise village

Most readers have undoubtedly heard about the children alleged to have been killed by Canadian weaponry in Kandahar, resulting in another "Death to Canada" protest. Below is some of the better reporting on that incident, which reveals that, quite apart from the merits of the recent allegations, Canadian forces have been menacing the area for some time.

Graeme Smith:

Canadians blamed for childrens' deaths in Kandahar
Graeme Smith - Globe and Mail

KANDAHAR, Feb 24 - Angry villagers carted the bodies of two dead children into Kandahar city yesterday, screaming, "Death to the Canadians," and blaming the foreign troops for testing weapons near their homes...

The Canadian military has launched an investigation, saying its troops had been test-firing artillery and tank cannons...

No clear answers have emerged [as to what killed the children], said Canadian military spokesman Major Mario Couture, because that dusty part of the Panjwai valley is strewn with hazards.

"It's littered with all kinds of unexploded ordnance and mines, and it's a very dangerous area, so anything is possible," Major Couture said.

The tragedy occurred ... less than half a kilometre from Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid village, also known as the "handicapped village." It's a small settlement devoted to helping disabled Afghans, named after its benefactor** - the wealthy ruler of Dubai - whose support has been crucial for the Afghan mission...

Major Couture acknowledged that "children would have been killed and injured" had they come into contact with unexploded ordnance left behind by Canadian troops, "who were conducting a range in the area the day prior to the incident."...

Villagers were so upset by the incident that they briefly blocked two roads. At one point, they loaded the corpses of the two boys onto a wooden trailer hauled by a motorbike and drove them to the centre of Kandahar, demonstrating noisily on the road between the governor's meeting hall and the provincial council offices.

Their shouts drew the attention of journalists, whose footage showed the children's blood-splattered faces and brown eyes staring blankly...

Some of the protesters were hobbling on crutches, missing legs. Afghan officials said the dead children were residents of the so-called handicapped village... (link)
The CBC:
3rd child dies after Afghan explosion
CBC - February 24, 200

... Officials in Kandahar City's Mirwais Hospital identified the third victim as four-year-old Juma Gul, one of three children treated for shrapnel wounds after the explosion on Sunday.

Two other children, a 13-year-old identified as Sadar Walli and 12-year-old Amed Jan, were killed instantly...

But some of the village elders could not back up the father's claims.

Mohammed Zahir said he heard an explosion around 11 a.m. as children were returning from religious school...

He said foreign troops come to the area twice a month to practise firing.

"It scares our children," he said. "They can’t sleep." ... (link)
So, from all this we have established that the Canadian Forces twice monthly fires off weapons such as artillery and tank cannons in an area which has an abundance of dangerous unexploded mines and ordnance and which is located less than 500m from a village of disabled people and closer still to the village of Salehan, where the children are frightened and cannot sleep.

The third dead child would mark, by my count, the fourteenth Afghan civilian known to have been killed by Canadian troops. (See here for antecedents.)

** Numerous reports have asserted that Sheik Muhammed (who was then crown prince) visited Osama Bin Laden in Kandahar in the late 1990's for one of Bin Laden's fund-raising hunting expeditions. (See this L.A. Times article. ) Some insist that the sheik did not meet with Bin Laden there, or even that he did not visit Kandahar at all at that time. However, the existence of a charity village dedicated to the sheik is perhaps support for the assertion that he has visited the area.

N.B.: For more on the Oct 18 2006 incident in Ashoqa (aka Ashogo) noted in the graphic above, see Markland, "Media blind to Afghan civilian deaths".

February's toll:

February 5-6: US-led coalition forces in Zabul kill 6 civilians in an attack which targeted insurgents, say Afghan officials.
February 6: US-led coalition forces shoot and kill one man and wound a woman and child at a checkpoint in Khost province.
February 11: A provincial spokesman says NATO airstrikes kill four civilians in Logar province.
February 12: Five children are killed as Australian special forces battle militants while searching a house in Uruzgan province.
February 16: In Herat US forces kill 12 - 16 civilians in air attacks. An American investigation claims that 13 civilians and three militants were killed.
February 17: Two civilians in a vehicle are killed by NATO-led troops on patrol in the Maywand district of Kandahar.
February 23: Villagers report that Canadian weaponry killed three children in Panjwai district. According to some, it was unexploded left-over ordnance; others said it was a Canadian artillery shell fired at the children.

10 comments:

milnews.ca said...

Interesting summary at the end:
"February 23: Villagers report that Canadian weaponry killed three children in Panjwai district. According to some, it was unexploded left-over ordnance; others said it was a Canadian artillery shell fired at the children. "
You forgot one of the other competing theories, at least according to one media account here:
http://xrl.us/behzdf
"A local police chief said the deaths may have been caused by a Taliban attack."
If we're going to share information, let's share all of it.

David said...

The headline is nothing more than propaganda and is insulting. Now that an investigation shows that Canadians did NOT terrorise a village, will you post a correction?

Dave Markland said...

Milnews.ca:
Thank you for your interest in this blog. Your comments, however, seem a bit off-the-mark. The post contains appropriate cautions ('alleged,' etc) and indeed, despite self-imposed space and time constraints, that is quite normal for this blog. Check it out. For instance there are often times when Afghan civilians, officials or US/NATO reps are reported making wild assertions (e.g. 'Chechen Taliban') and it is my job to separate the wheat from the chaff. (And indeed the summaries at the end are subject to edits as facts become clear, as can be confirmed by looking at other posts.) As for the suggestion about sharing all information, I'll have to respectfully disagree. This blog is more like a digest than a compendium. Probably less than 5% of the news items I read get blogged. If readers prefer to see a newswire, I'd suggest Lexis-Nexis. Again, thanks for writing.
Sincerely,
Dave M

Dave Markland said...

David:
Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to write. However, if you had read the blog posting carefully, you would see that your comments are inapt.
As I wrote, based on the evidence provided, "the Canadian Forces twice monthly fires off weapons such as artillery and tank cannons in an area which has an abundance of dangerous unexploded mines and ordnance and which is located less than 500m from a village of disabled people," etc. This of course is independent of the veracity of the current allegations against the Canadians.
If a (foreign) military force tested their heavy guns 500m from my village, I would call it terror. In this case, it is hard not to see a heavy dose of racism as a contributing factor. Maybe a more appropriate title would be "Canadian military's racist terror."
Sincerely,
Dave M

milnews.ca said...

Thanks for the detailed response, DM. At least you're honest enough to say the coverage is not comprehensive - I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on what to include and what to exclude.

In the spirit of "....the summaries at the end are subject to edits as facts become clear, as can be confirmed by looking at other posts," here's some new information: ".... Preliminary findings, based on the evidence collected, witness interviews and analysis of explosive residue by in-theatre explosives experts, determined that the device which caused the blast was most probably an unexploded anti-personnel improvised explosive device (IED) or mine not consistent with ammunition used by Canadian Forces (CF) personnel....."
http://xrl.us/beh4c4

"Forensic evidence has removed any suspicion that Canadian munitions killed three children last week, military officials said Monday, contradicting angry villagers who believe Canadian troops were responsible."
http://xrl.us/beh395

Re: "If a (foreign) military force tested their heavy guns 500m from my village, I would call it terror," what would you call this, then: "In an attempt to further weaken public support for the government, insurgents have also targeted schools, medical services, humanitarian aid and commercial supply lines. These attacks have a severe impact far beyond their immediate victims .... Several people .... reported that their houses were destroyed and relatives, including young children, were injured by insurgent rockets intended to hit a nearby military base. With similar disregard, suicide bombers frequently detonate themselves in overwhelmingly civilian areas and are often disguised as civilians when attacking military targets...."?
http://xrl.us/52kth

kursk said...

Whoa there..it has been shown that the Canadian's ordnance did not kill the children.The range firing point may have been 500 metres from the village, but the aim point would be many thousands of metres distant, and possibly kilometres distant in the case of artillery or tank cannon rounds.

Your second comment to Milnews is odd..what point are you trying to get across, or should i dare ask?

Can we please see a piece dedicated to your outrage at the Taliban's deliberate targeting of Afghan youth? Or are you selectively partisan when it comes to the exploitation of children's deaths?

Dave Markland said...

milnews: Thank you for the compliment. I thus invite you to check out the blog's archives where you'll find lots of judicious editing. We tend to specialize in including what the others exclude. For instance, do you know of any coverage of the Nangar Khel massacre? The Toube massacre? That and other topics are often covered here in depth while other media choose to suppress the facts.
You appear to acknowledge that the Canadian troops were terrorizing the villagers (as does the Canadian commander now, it seems). As for the list of heinous acts of the Taliban, they are of course crimes. But if we are serious about seeing an end to those crimes and others, we have to be honest with ourselves. The entire list quoted, minus the suicide bombings, describes typical tactics of the mujaheddin, who were the west's "freedom fighters". Back then, we righteously told the Soviets to end their illegal occupation of Afghanistan. And now we're there after George Bush famously invaded the country with no legal authority.
Sincerely,
Dave M

Dave Markland said...

kursk: Thank you for your interest in the blog. However, I think you may have mistaken this for a blog where there is a lot of macho posturing. (I realize it's normal on the net, but less so here. The serious consequences of war warrant a serious response, at least in this venue.) I would be happy to respond to comments or questions, but as you have neglected to cite anything I've written, I cannot.
Sincerely,
Dave M

Tuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
milnews.ca said...

To be clear, repeating your comment (In the spirit of "....the summaries at the end are subject to edits as facts become clear, as can be confirmed by looking at other posts,") =/= agreeing with it - hardly in the same vein as "As for the list of heinous acts of the Taliban, they are of course crimes".

As for Nangar Khel, it appears charges have been laid against alleged perpetrators - more than I can say for the Taliban criminals.

As for Toube, let's remember this: "Helmand’s police chief cautioned against blaming foreigners for all of the province’s troubles and called on the assembled elders to reflect on the terrible events of the past 30 years."

I'll go so far as agreeing that we certainly don't hear/see it all in mainstream media, but will have to continue to agree to disagree regarding what to share or not.