Thursday, June 11, 2009

US forces kill civilians, say locals

A not-so-shocking surprise:

US checks civilian death reports in Afghan strike
By Sharafuddin Sharafyar

HERAT, Afghanistan, June 11 (Reuters) - An insurgent commander targeted by a U.S. air strike in western Afghanistan may have survived, but the U.S. military is checking reports that civilians were among the dead, the military said on Thursday.

The U.S. military said on Wednesday Mullah Mustafa and 16 fighters had been killed in a targeted air strike in Ghor province, describing the commander as a "warlord" reported to have links with both Iran and the Taliban.

It said he had been struck after being observed meeting with armed men at a remote location where no civilians were present.

But on Thursday, the military issued an updated statement, which said "credible reports surfaced that Mustafa survived the attack" and "unsubstantiated reports of civilian casualties emerged". It said it was checking the reports of civilian deaths.

Ghor's deputy governor, Keramuddin Rezazada, told Reuters he was not able to confirm whether Mustafa had been killed, and villagers had reported that 10 civilians as well as 12 armed men were killed in the strike... (link)

Locals accuse the US of more carnage:
Casualties as US forces bomb civilians
By Khan Wali Salarzi

ASADABAD, June 9 (Pajhwok) - One civilian was killed and dozens wounded in a bomb dropped by US forces on a locality in Asadabad, capital of the eastern Kunar province, officials and witnesses said on Tuesday.

Giving an eyewitness account, Khan Mohammad told Pajhwok Afghan News the bomb was dropped opposite the main mosque in the provincial capital at about 9:00am. The casualties included schoolchildren and pedestrians.

Dr. Ehsanullah Fazli, head of the Kunar Civil Hospital, confirmed a dead body and 44 injured had been brought to the hospital.

School children, shopkeepers and passers-by are among the injured, he added.

A 25-year-old injured person in the hospital told this scribe that a US forces tank crashed against a traffic sign and then dropped a bomb on the people. Many civilians were injured by the bomb blast, he said... (link)
Here's the New York Times coverage of the same accusations:
Accounts Differ on Afghan Grenade Attack
By Adam B. Ellick - The New York Times

KABUL, June 9 — A grenade explosion killed two Afghan civilians and wounded 56 people in a crowded market in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, but the identity of the person who threw the grenade was in doubt, with American officials blaming an Afghan militant and some Afghan officials an American soldier.

The head of the provincial council said that he had spoken to dozens of the injured and that they had described how an American soldier threw the grenade into a crowd of some 100 Afghans gathered around a stalled American military vehicle in the town of Asadabad. “It was daylight,” said the official, Malavi Ezatallah. “Everybody saw it.” Speaking by telephone from the funeral of one of victims, he called the attack “a complete cruel crime against civilians.”

The Interior Ministry, on the other hand, released a statement blaming the attack on militants and said local police found a metal ring at the scene that is a remnant of a Russian hand grenade, implicating the insurgents.

An American military spokesman in Kabul, Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, strongly disputed the suggestion that an American had thrown the grenade, calling it “completely unfounded.” ... (link)

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