While news of police opening fire on demonstrators is almost commonplace, recent events reveal a lot about the credibility of NATO statements of innocence. First, see the BBC:
Protest at Afghan 'mosque raid'But wait. Note that the NATO spokesperson (Lt-Cmdr Chris Hall) said none of their troops were in the area. Yet, that's not what NATO said the next day in their press release:
FEBRUARY 27 - There have been angry protests in the Afghan province of Ghazni at what locals say was a raid on a mosque by international forces.
A number of people were hurt when police clashed with protesters.
A Nato spokesman said there were no indications its troops were in the area on Thursday [Feb 26] when the incident was said to have occurred.
Some reports say shots were fired in the mosque and also that a Koran in the building was damaged.
One protester told Associated Press he saw Polish forces at the mosque in the village of Dhi Khodaidad... (link)
Previously, Afghan National Police in Ghazni, acting on information that a certain building in the village of Deh-e Khodaydad was being used as a militant safe house and recruitment centre, requested that ISAF troops support an ANP operation intended to capture militant cell leaders there.So, not only were there NATO troops in the area after all, but the operation there was pre-planned. Thus, when NATO spokespeople tell us their troops were absent from an alleged event, it is entirely possible they are speaking falsely. Whether by neglect or design, it seems that spokespersons are not always privy to the facts.
During the Feb. 26 operation, Afghan National Police entered the building using a non-lethal concussion grenade to subdue possible occupants. ISAF forces provided a security cordon around the building, but did not enter. The ANP found no militants inside the building, and no shots were reportedly fired. There were no reports of injuries in the operation or of significant damage to the building or its contents... (link)
The release also does not state whether the troops on scene when the alleged incident occurred were Polish or American soldiers, something which witnesses apparently disagree on.
Reuters reports that six people were injured when police opened fire on the demonstrators.
- May 11, 2008: VIDEO: Afghan police open fire on anti-US demo, killing three. Later, US officials release without charge all the suspects arrested in the raid which sparked the deadly protests.
- May 22, 2008: Afghan police kill anti-US demonstrators - again.
- June 12 2008: "Four demonstrators were wounded in a protest walk against US forces in the southeastern province of Paktika" in Muta Khan district.
- June 14 2008: Pajhwok Afghan News: "police fired to disrupt a peaceful demonstration against NATO operations in the southeastern province of Paktia," in Zermat district.
- Aug 2008: Veteran journalist Anand Gopal: "Sohaila Wedah Khamoush, a reporter for the independent daily Payman, says she has been repeatedly abused by police and government officials. 'I saw police beating protesters in an anti-US demonstration,' she says."
- Aug 19 2008: Police and army troops opened fire on protesters in Nangarhar province, killing or injuring several people. One witness said 17 people were killed.