Monday, November 26, 2007

Victim of US coalition bombing speaks

Time Magazine reports on recent admissions by US and Afghan officials of their responsibility for civilian casualties in an air raid September 27 in Chora district, Uruzgan province. The focus is on Assadullah, a man who lost 20 family members when US planes bombed his house at the behest of Afghan and American ground troops, according to one NATO officer.

... Assadullah says he and his neighbors had no warning that any operation was imminent in their region. He thinks the bombing may have been sparked when a family became frightened after seeing army patrols and moved into the house next to his in the village, arousing the soldiers' suspicion. He says that house was bombed. Other villages where families moved in with each other were also bombed, said residents of the area.

"There was no Taliban around at the time," Assadullah says. "The Taliban did not even get a bleeding nose that night." Despite his loss, Assadullah says if the ISAF helps to rebuild the villages and stops bombing and shelling, then the villagers might continue to support their efforts. But he adds an ominous warning: "If nothing changes for the good, our people must join the Taliban."
We here at StopwarBlog covered this event at the time (here), quoting IRIN, the UN development news service thusly: "The US military said three non-combatants were wounded in the crossfire and evacuated to a military medical facility in Uruzgan Province. Local people, however, said at least 10 civilians died in the military operations."

A few days before the tragic attack, a journalist with recent experience int he area described the Chora district as "non-permissive", meaning that attacks on NATO troops are "regular" (see our entry here).

Chora's backstory
Now the Sept 27 attack wasn't the first encounter which locals in Chora have had with foreign forces. In June, an event which has been called the biggest Taliban offensive of 2007 occurred in the ditrict, called the Battle of Chora. It was fought between Dutch-led NATO forces and Taliban insurgents, and reportedly resulted in some 60 civilians killed.

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