Monday, July 2, 2007

More disasters, more denials

NATO soldiers in Kandahar City shot a motorcyclist mistaken for a suicide bomber. While NATO claims that careful warning shots were fired and that the motorcyclist was merely wounded, hospital officials report that the motorcyclist was in fact killed, while at least three others were wounded:

I was riding a bicycle when the NATO convoy was passing, and when they got close they started firing and I was hit," said Mohammad Naimat, who was recovering from a bullet wound at the hospital. "There was no explosion, no fighting. I don't know why they started firing." (link to AP article)
"(The) Wounded told us that NATO forces opened fire on them without any reason," said Dr. Mohammed Hashim at Mirwais Hospital. (link to Reuters article)
NATO's shabby public relations efforts were mirrored in US military statements regarding house raids in eastern Afghanistan. While American officials claimed to have killed four and captured sixteen militants, locals (including police) had another story:
A villager named Ketab Jan said the dead were a father, two sons and a nephew from the same family.

“The people who are killed and arrested by the coalition forces are innocent people,” he said by telephone from the area. “They were shopkeepers and farmers and labourers.

“They don’t have any relationship with the Taleban and Al Qaeda people. They (the soldiers) were operating without strong information.”

There have been several cases in Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, in which coalition forces have said they had killed militants whom locals said were innocent civilians.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has called for US/NATO to cut back on air strikes to lower the number of civilian deaths. This amid statements by the UN, an AIHRC commissioner and the Associated Press that Afghan and international forces (i.e. NATO/US) have killed more civilians this year than have the Taliban.

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