Thursday, July 17, 2008

'Dozens' more civilians killed in airstrikes, say elders (with update)

Once again, US bombing has killed Afghan civilians. The BBC has the story:

US Afghan bombing 'kills dozens'
By Alastair Leithead

KABUL, July 17 (BBC) - Dozens of Afghan civilians have been killed during aerial bombing by US forces in the western province of Herat, tribal elders say.

They said an important tribal elder was among the dead in Shindand district.

A Nato spokesman said a number of insurgents had been killed and there were no reports of civilian casualties...

News of the fighting in Shindand district came from tribal elders who reported dozens of casualties in the Zerkoh Valley.

They said a large number of civilians had been killed in aerial attacks from midnight until 1000 local time.

There were also unconfirmed reports of demonstrations beginning against Afghan security checkpoints.

Haji Nasrullah Khan, a hugely influential tribal leader, and three other men had been targeted and killed and four civilians injured, the local police chief for Shindand said.

A Nato spokesman confirmed there had been an operation in the region of Parmagan village and said: "All indicators were that it had been successful with a number of insurgents killed and no reports of any civilian casualties." ...

Survivors told the BBC local people had resisted American forces after they searched houses, including women's rooms which is not acceptable in local culture... (link)
Readers who are trying to keep track of the macabre score will recall that on July 3, six civilians were killed by US -led foreign troops; July 4 saw 15-22 civilians killed by US-led forces in Nuristan; July 6, a US airstrike killed 47 (perhaps 52) civilians - mostly women and children - who were part of a wedding party in Nangarhar province; July 15 a US airstrike killed nine civilians - again mostly women and children.

The death toll of those reported incidents, up until yesterday, totals a maximum of 89 people, yet that seems to be just a part of the carnage. Recall that the Red Cross said that some 250 civilians had died in just five days in the middle of that same time frame; they blamed both insurgents and foreign forces for the carnage.

While NATO has acknowledged eight civilians they killed in Farah on July 15 (though other reports put the total at nine), foreign force commanders still insist that there were no civilians killed in Herat July 17, despite numerous local officials reporting otherwise:
NATO force denies Afghan civilian casualty report

KABUL, July 18 (Reuters) - The NATO-led international force in Afghanistan rejected on Friday reports from Afghan officials that it killed more than 50 civilians in air strikes the previous day in the west of the country.

At least four men were killed in the strikes, a spokesman for the regional police command had said on Thursday. Witnesses said 17 people were also wounded.

But other reports, by Shindand District Chief Mullah Lal Mohammad and a tribal elder, Haji Zalmai, said that more than 50 civilians had been killed in the strikes in the villages of Farmakan and Bakhtabad in the western province of Herat.

"ISAF has thoroughly investigated and rejects claims that ISAF forces killed more than 50 civilians in the Shindand area," the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

"Our extensive investigation reveals that the closest airstrikes carried out were 13 km to the South East of these villages. ISAF therefore rejects these claims as baseless." ... (link)

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