Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NATO and US-led forces kill 8 civilians

First the British-authored incident in Helmand, as reported in the Independent:

Women and children killed in Afghanistan by British air strike

By John Bingham
Thursday, 13 March 2008

Two women and two children were killed in an air strike called in by British forces in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said. It is understood that the incident in Helmand Province took place after British troops had called in air support to help extricate them from a Taliban ambush ...

The MoD said in a statement yesterday: "We can confirm UK forces were involved in an operation in the south of Helmand Province. We deeply regret that this incident happened ..."

The tragedy highlights the responsibility on the shoulders of British forward air controllers – the role filled by Prince Harry until he was forced to return from his posting in Afghanistan less than two weeks ago. [Note: See this blog (here) for the report that Prince Harry's unit proudly notched up 30 "enemy kills" during his tenure - DM.]

... Details of the incident were revealed by a Nato spokesman, Brig-Gen Carlos Branco at a news conference ...

He added: "On the tragic issue of civilian casualties, you will note that Isaf will inform you of such unfortunate events, events which are thoroughly investigated. This is not the case for the insurgents, whose propaganda attempts to seize every opportunity to accuse Nato troops of killing civilians, no matter what the circumstances, to create the perception that ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) or Isaf are responsible for all civilian casualties." ...

Air support was called in and directed on to the area where the Taliban appeared to have been operating but the civilians were unintentionally killed. ... (link)
Readers will note that the Independent nicely parrots the NATO catchphrase "unintentionally killed". Some months ago, the outstanding American historian Howard Zinn addressed the moral status of such assertions:
These words are misleading because they assume an action is either “deliberate” or “unintentional.” There is something in between, for which the word is “inevitable.” If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not “intentional.” Does that difference exonerate you morally? (link)
Meanwhile, the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom also killed four civilians - these victims being Pakistani:
US-led coalition fire kills 4 Pakistanis

Mar 13 (AP) - An artillery shell fired by U.S.-led coalition forces during an operation against militants in neighboring Afghanistan killed four Pakistanis across the border, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said five artillery shells fired by coalition forces inside Afghanistan strayed into Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday.

One shell hit a home in the village of Kangrai, killing two women and two children, Abbas said. ...

Incidents of coalition fire landing in Pakistani territory have occurred in the past, drawing protests from Pakistani officials.

In June last year, a rocket fired during a battle between U.S.-led NATO forces and insurgents in Afghanistan struck a home in North Waziristan, killing 10 people. (link)

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