Saturday, August 30, 2008

When civilians are shot

On Thursday August 28, a woman and two children were killed, and perhaps four children wounded (or five wounded including three minors), at a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan run by German and Afghan troops. The governor and the police chief of the province of Kunduz both say it was German soldiers who fired the fatal shots. The Afghan press reports that this is yet another attack on a group of wedding-goers:

From Pajhwok Afghan News:

German troops kill woman, two children

KUNDUZ, Aug 30 (PAN) - Three civilians - a woman and two children - were killed as foreign troops fired at a wedding procession in the northern Kunduz province, a top government official alleged on Friday.

Governor Eng. Muhammad Omar told Pajhwok Afghan News firing from the foreign soldiers wounded another five people including three minors.

The marriage party came under fire on its way from Khanabad district to the provincial capital. The incident took place late Thursday night in the Malarghay area, the governor said, adding the German forces fired at two vehicles of the wedding guests. The soldiers hit the cars after the drivers flouted signals to stop... (link)
The German press has more details:
Three Afghan civilians dead
Police Chief Accuses German Soldiers of Shooting

AUGUST 29 - An Afghan police chief has accused German soldiers of killing two children and a woman in Kunduz after opening fire on a civilian car that didn't slow down at a checkpoint. Berlin has not yet confirmed the details of the incident but says the matter is being investigated.

German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan opened fire on a civilian vehicle after it failed to slow down for a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province, Kunduz Chief of Police and Security Abdul Rahman Aqdash told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Friday. The incident occurred just before 10 p.m. on Thursday, according to official reports.

Aqdash says two cars of the same make approached the checkpoint from the north. One turned around just before the checkpoint and the second followed suit at the last moment. Security forces made up of German ISAF soldiers and Afghan police thought they were dealing with drug dealers or members of the Taliban. Aqdash claims that German soldiers then opened fire on the back of the second car. The driver survived, but two children and one woman were killed... (link)
Interestingly, the latest incident comes close on the heels of an incident last week where German troops killed their first Afghan - who turned out to be a shepherd, not an insurgent according to the chief of police:
German Troops Kill First Person in Afghanistan

AUGUST 21 - Six years into its Afghanistan mission, the German army has killed a person there for the first time. Reports, though, are conflicting. While some speak of a firefight, others say it was an unarmed shepherd...

According to a report in the Rheinische Post on Thursday, a German patrol was attacked late on Tuesday night not far from the base in Faisabad. The soldiers on the patrol, none of whom were injured, returned fire and killed one person. The event is noteworthy because it marks the first time in the six-year operation that the German army has killed someone there.

The person they killed, though, may not have been from the Taliban at all. According to a Wednesday report in the German news agency DPA, the victim may have been an unarmed shepherd. The agency cites the police chief from the province of Badachshan, Agha Noor Keentoz, as saying that the man merely wanted to signal the patrol away from his herd of sheep. The German army, the Bundeswehr, is investigating the incident together with state prosecutors... (link)
Meanwhile Canadian troops, themselves still reeling from having killed two children at a highway checkpoint a few weeks ago (see here), found themselves repeatedly firing warning shots to deter civilian motorists.

Edmonton Journal reporter Graham Thomson was recently embedded with Canadian troops in Kandahar city when they fired warning shots at three separate vehicles in the space of 30 minutes - an unprecedented event, according to officials. In the first case, the driver was the son of an Afghan military commander, the second an off-duty cop and the third was a contractor at a Canadian military base. All drivers were unhurt though in one of the encounters, a ricocheting shot injured an elderly man standing nearby.

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