Saturday, August 23, 2008

Investigations confirm devastation

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission sent an investigator to Shindand district in Herat yesterday. In an initial report, the AIHRC says that 78 civilians were killed in the US bombing in the middle of the night of Thursday/Friday.

Group says 78 Afghans killed; US to investigate

KABUL, Aug 23 (AP) - An Afghan human rights group said Saturday that at least 78 people were killed in a joint Afghan-U.S. coalition military operation in western Afghanistan...

Ahmad Nader Nadery, the group's commissioner, said one of the group's researchers visited Azizabad on Friday and found that 78 people had been killed and 15 houses were destroyed...

Ghulam Azrat, 50, the director of the middle school in Azizabad, said he collected 60 bodies Friday morning after the bombing.

"We put the bodies in the main mosque," he told The Associated Press by phone, sometimes pausing to collect himself in between tears. "Most of these dead bodies were children and women. It took all morning to collect them."

Azrat said villagers on Saturday threw stones at Afghan soldiers who tried to give food and clothes to them. He said the soldiers fired into the crowd and wounded eight people, including one child critically wounded... (link)
Agence France-Presse has more on the melee with Afghan soldiers and adds that journalists have also seen the site of the bombing:
... About 250 villagers staged an angry protest on Saturday, hurling stones at Afghan troops, the police chief for western Afghanistan, General Akram Yawar, told AFP.

Shots were fired into the air to disperse the crowd and four people were wounded, he said.

The troops were forced back into their compound, he said by telephone, with the crowd's chants against the government and the international troops heard in the background.

Reporters who later went to the area with a police escort could see around 15 houses reduced to rubble and fresh graves that locals said contained the bodies of the victims.

Demonstrators had torched a police car and checkpost and blocked the main road to Herat for several hours, an AFP correspondent said. They had also overturned a food delivery truck, he said...

The US military... insisted only 30 militants were killed in the fighting and air strikes...

"We are very confident of the information that we have because we physically went into that compound and identified the people," coalition spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Rumi Nielson-Green told AFP Saturday... (link)

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