Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recurring nightmare: more civilians killed

Local officials in Laghman province report that US-led forces killed over a dozen civilians in an August 20th operation which was originally claimed to have killed 30 insurgents. Al Jazeera has more:

[...] The attacks were called when the area was clear of women and children after about 200 civilians were seen fleeing, and there were no civilian casualties, [a US military] statement said.

But an Afghan politician told Al Jazeera that there were at least 20 civilians among the 30 people killed in the air raids.

Later, the Reuters news agency also two unnamed provincial officials as saying at least a dozen civilians had been killed in the attack.

About 20 people were wounded in the attack, including an elderly man, four children and eight women, Asadullah Rauf, a surgeon, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying... (link)
Quqnoos Afghan news adds that the victims were, once again, wedding-goers:
Hazrat Gul, an elder of Garoch area told Pajhwok Afghan News, that 17 civilians were killed, a dozen from the same family.

The dead included six women, two children and elders and youth, he said.

NATO raided a house belonging to Haji Qadir, where people were getting ready for a wedding party, he said.

All houses in the village were destroyed except a mosque, he added... (link)
According to Laghman's governor, the US-led coalition attacked insurgents who were exiting the valley where Monday's attack on French troops took place. The US military's spokesperson said the forces were not "completely certain" that these insurgents had been involved in the earlier attack which killed 10 French soldiers and injured 21 others.

Readers may recall that in the wake of the July 6 bombing in Nangarhar, US officials similarly denied any wrongdoing.

Regarding Monday's headline-grabbing attack on the French troops, Le Monde has printed explosive reports on the nature of the incident (via Agence France-Presse):
... The soldiers said that once they had fallen into the ambush they had to wait for four hours before any backup was sent.

"We had no more ammunition for our other weapons and we were left only with our Famas (assault rifles)," one soldier, who was not named, was quoted as saying.

When NATO planes finally arrived to help them they sometimes missed their target and hit French troops, the paper quotes the soldiers as saying.

Afghan soldiers sent in as backup also mistakenly targeted the French soldiers, it said... (link)
The tally for August:
Aug 4: US troops in Ghazni province kill five civilians.
Aug 7: US troops kill five civilians in Ghazni.
Aug 9: NATO airstrike kills between 11 and 31 civilians in Kapisa.
Aug 12: NATO troops kill driver in Helmand.
Aug 13: NATO airstrike kills 3 children in Logar.
Aug 16: Local officials say NATO bombing kills 11 civilians in Ghazni.
Aug 17: NATO rocket attack kills 3 civilians.
Aug 21: US-led airstrikes kill between 12 and 20 civilians.

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