Friday, July 11, 2008

Airstrike death tolls climb

Readers will recall that US airstrikes on July 4 in Nuristan and July 6 in Nangarhar were alleged to have killed scores of civilians. In response, the Karzai government sent teams to investigate those claims. Those teams have reported their findings, saying that the Nuristan incident killed 17 civilians (estimates had varied from 14 to 22) while in Nuristan some 47 civilians were killed, 39 of which were women and children. Initial reports put the death toll for that July 6 incident at up to 27.

It bears emphasis that US authorities vehemently denied that any civilians were killed in either episode. They appear to be maintaining their innocence still:
US-led strikes kills 64 Afghan civilians
by Samoon Miakhial

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AFP) - Official investigations have found that US-led air strikes a week ago killed 64 people, most of them women and children, the heads of separate investigation teams said Friday.

The US-led coalition has denied killing civilians in the strikes on July 4 and July 6...

The team that looked into Sunday's strike in the remote Deh Bala district of Nangarhar told AFP they were shown the bloodied clothes of women and children killed in the strike that hit a wedding party and turned left buildings into rubble.

"We found that 47 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the air strikes and another nine were wounded," said the head of the mission, Burhanullah Shinwari.

"They were all civilians and had no links with Taliban or Al-Qaeda," said Shinwari, who is also the deputy speaker of Afghanistan's senate.

Around 10 people were missing and believed to be still under rubble, he said.

Another member of the delegation, Mohammad Asif Shinwari, said there were only three men among the dead and the rest were women and children...

A separate investigation into Friday's strike in the northeastern province of Nuristan had found that 17 civilians were killed there, said General Mohammad Amin, a defence ministry official who headed the team.

The coalition has said this hit "several" militants who were fleeing after attacking a base.

"We found that in the bombing 17 people were killed and nine were wounded, Amin said. "They are all civilians."

Afghan authorities said before that the dead included two doctors and two midwives who were leaving the area after the coalition said it was preparing an operation there.

The relatives of some of the victims were paid compensation, Amin said, warning the killings could see a backlash against the government and the international troops helping it to fight an extremist insurgency...

The coalition said it was investigating the incidents... (link)
The Guardian adds more:
The Guardian
US air strike wiped out Afghan wedding party, inquiry finds

July 11 - A US air strike killed 47 civilians...

Fighter aircraft attacked a group of militants near the village of Kacu in the eastern Nuristan province, but one missile went off course and hit the wedding party, said the provincial police chief spokesman, Ghafor Khan.

The US military initially denied any civilians had been killed.

Lieutenant Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokeswoman for the US-led coalition, told AFP today the military regretted the loss of any civilian life and was investigating the incident... (link)
Note that there appears to be some ambiguity as to whether the 10 missing people have been counted among the 47 dead.

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