Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dead civilians go unnoticed in the news

Today we're doing a little catch-up with civilian casualties and abuses by foreign forces in the past week and a half. This first one was virtually ignored by the Canadian media, despite it taking place in Kandahar province. In fact, the Arghandab district where this occurred used to be in the Canadian area of operations, though American troops have lately been doing the occupying there. The Canadian press actually outperformed others: the Globe story (below) was the only one outside Afghanistan.

As is frequent, the embattled and repressed Afghan press broke the story, while western journalists who possess many advantages came up empty:

Six dead in Kandahar air strike
By Basher Ahmad Nadem

KANDAHAR, Sept 24 (Pajhwok) - Six people were killed and several others wounded in an air strike by foreign forces in Arghandab district of the volatile southern Kandahar province, residents said Thursday.

The air raid was conducted late Wednesday night in Nagahan area that lasted one hour, according to residents, who had brought their injured relatives to the Mirwais Civil Hopital in Kandahar City.

Abdul Wahid, a resident said, several gunship helicopters arrived in the area and suddenly started bombing their houses...

He feared the death toll could be increased as residents were searching for bodies...

Locals said there was no Taliban in the area. They expressed their wonder why the foreign forces conducted the air strike.

Foreign forces based in Kandahar have said nothing about the air raid... (link)
Four days later, the Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway writes in a September 28 article:
Mohammed [an innocent victim who lost his legs in the airstrike] said the men he was with in the vineyard had no guns.

When asked if the ISAF forces found weapons among the dead, Col. Shanks said: “Our forces did go back in to look at the area later that day and they reported enemy killed and materials removed.” ...

A local official from the Arghandab district, who did not want to be identified for fear of Taliban reprisal, said intelligence was received to indicate that insurgents had come into the vineyard and were eating grapes with the farm workers.

“We gave this to the coalition forces and the coalition forces sent planes to this place,” the official said.

But Mohammed insists the intelligence was wrong.

When the ISAF soldiers arrived after the air raid, he said, “they didn't find weapons or anything, they saw only boxes of grapes.”

Doctors and nurses treating the injured said they believe the men in their care are not insurgents because of the anger expressed by family members who have travelled from their home districts just outside Kandahar city to visit. Local people have a good idea about who is a Taliban and who is not, they said... (link)
In Wardak province, just south of Kabul, civilian killings prompt a large protest:
Foreign troops slay father and son in Wardak
Ahmad Qureshi & Basharat

KABUL, Sept 26 (Pajhwok) - Foreign troops have allegedly killed a father and his son during a raid on their house in central Maidan Wardak province late Friday night, residents said on Saturday.

Nearly two hundreds residents of the Chadra village in Syedabad district brought the dead bodies of the victims to the provincial capital and put them in front of the Governor's House to protest the killing, said Dr. Muhammad Pandi, a relative of the deceased.

He added the foreign troops first fired a rocket at the gate of his uncle's house and then entered inside. "The forces brutally murdered my uncle and his son at midnight," he added... (link)
The September 25 Wardak incident appears not to have been reported outside Afghanistan. Neither was the following, which also took place in Wardak province:
NATO raid leaves three civilians dead
By Hakim Basharat

KABUL, Sept 27 (Pajhwok) - An ISAF air strike killed three civilians and wounded as many in central Maidan Wardak province late Saturday night, officials said on Sunday.

A spokesman for the governor, Shahidullah Shahid, told Pajhwok Afghan News the air raid was carried out in the Sanglakh area of Jalrez district. He confirmed the strike killed three civilians and wounded three others.

The victims were asleep near piles of wheat crop in their fields, added the spokesman...

Provincial council head Hazrat Mohammad Janan verified the raid that happened in Polak village at about 10pm last night killed three civilians and wounded four others.

Residents of the district also confirmed the incident... (link)
In Khost, US airstrikes killed battling friendlies - rival tribes who haven't (yet) declared war on the US/NATO occupiers:
Two tribesmen killed in US air strike
By Saboor Mangal

KHOST CITY, Sept 28 (Pajhwok) - Two armed people were killed in a US air strike as rival tribesmen sat in trenches in the southeastern Khost province, a senior official said on Monday.

Acting Governor Tahir Khan Sabri told Pajhwok Afghan News the bombing occurred this afternoon in Ovom area of Nader Shah Kot district, where the tribes have locked horns over barren land.

The dispute between Moqbil and Mangal tribes erupted last month and they have since been sitting in trenches, Sabri said, adding American forces mistook the armed tribesmen for Taliban militants. (link)
Finally, news agencies revealed on September 30 that a girl was killed in Helmand in June when a British plane dropped leaflets onto civilian areas. A box of leaflets failed to open as it was supposed to and struck the girl.

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