Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NATO forces kill and injure civilians

While Afghan officials report that NATO troops killed perhaps eleven civilians in Ghazni, the western press is silent:

Militants, civilians perish in lawless Ghazni
By Sher Ahmad Haidar

GHAZNI CITY, Aug 17 (Pajhwok): Over a dozen civilians, most of them women and children, and a large number of Taliban militants were killed during separate bombings of NATO soldiers, in the troubled southern province of Ghazni, officials said on Sunday.

Muhibullah Khpalwak administrative head of Nawa district told Pajhwok Afghan News the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers bombed in the outskirts of the district headquarters late on Saturday night.

He added a large number of Taliban fighters and four civilians including a woman have been killed in the bombing that took place in that district that was also fallen to the hands of Taliban late on Friday.

The district chief has claimed that the Taliban fighters have evacuated the district and there were no Taliban or government officials in the district headquarters. In Muqor district local officials said seven civilians have been killed in a separate airstrike of the NATO soldiers.

A security source who did not want to be named informed this news agency most of the perished civilians were being women and children. He added eight Taliban militants were also killed in the overnight airstrike... (link)
A Lexis-Nexus search reveals that these events of August 16 were not conveyed in any other English language media.

Next, on August 17, two children and a woman were killed and four others injured in a NATO rocket attack in Helmand:
Afghan woman, two children killed in British rocket fire

KABUL, Aug 18 (AFP) - An Afghan woman and two children were killed when British soldiers fired rockets at a compound in southern Afghanistan over the weekend to thwart a Taliban attack, the British military said Monday.

Another four civilians were hurt in the incident on Saturday in the southern province of Helmand, a British military statement said... (link)
The Guardian has some background:
[...] Troops on a routine patrol fired rockets after intercepting a radio message calling for insurgents to converge on the area, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said.

After identifying insurgents on the roof of a compound, the soldiers fired the rockets, not realising that there were women and children inside the building... (link)
For their part, NATO officials have accused Taliban insurgents of "total disregard" for Afghan civilians. Note above, however, that NATO soldiers didn't realise civilians were present. The NATO spokesperson uses the nicely passive phrase "unbeknown to the patrol" to describe this apparent breakdown in standard procedure rather than something more direct like "they didn't check." This despite the fact that NATO constantly accuses Taliban fighters (correctly, no doubt) of putting civilians in harm's way. NATO commanders didn't realise the danger, so they are blameless.

Despite the murderous probabilities of US/NATO airstrikes, and in this case admission that forces didn't know the status of civilians, it is doubtful that anyone will pay any notice. Anyone outside Afghanistan, that is; one doubts that Afghans are so blind to NATO misdeeds.

Postscript: In an effort to polish its image, NATO has hired former Coca-Cola exec Michael Stopford as a communications specialist. Since Coke was recently murdering unionists in Colombia, Stopford probably thought he'd be a good fit.

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