Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Police report dead civilians in bombing raid; NATO silent (media too)

Pajhwok Afghan News quotes a local police chief reporting that 4 civilians (including one woman) were killed on the weekend in a NATO bombing operation. Apparently no major western news sources carried news of the killings.

The bombing occurred in Sarobi district of Kabul province - an area where insurgents have frequently been active. It is worth noting that the area is easier for journalists to access (being close to the city of Kabul) than the remote areas of Helmand and Kandahar. In those two provinces of late, NATO and US spokespersons talk of hundreds of Taliban casualties in the past few weeks. The same spokespersons usually also note that civilian casualties have been avoided - to which news agencies simply add that "independent verification" of such claims can't be made.

A few months back, Pajhwok often carried reports by Afghan journalists who had visited villages wherein NATO/US forces claimed to have killed Taliban fighters, only to find local citizens and police who told them about civilian victims. Lately, however, security concerns are preventing journalists from getting in to report on these incidents. The result is that what we hear is only the NATO or US version (which is always self-serving) along with a Taliban spokesperson version (which is always outlandish).

Pajhwok excerpt:

Nadar Shah Nizami, in charge of the police post in Ozbeen, told Pajhwok Afghan News exchange of fire between the two sides was followed by an airstrike.

"Two jet fighters and three helicopters pounded two houses in the village," he said, adding a woman and three men, all of them civilians, were killed as a result.

Several others who sustained injuries were rushed to hospital for treatement, said the officer, who would not say about casualties among the attackers.

Nizami said Gaz village was consisting of around 1,000 houses. Some of 500 of them had been vacated for fear of military operations and airstrikes by local and foreign troops.

Maj. Charles Anthony, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), confirmed the bombing by saying that the raid was the result of an armed attack on their troops in that area.

The spokesman did not give details about casualties among common citizens and the attackers. ... (link)

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