Posts Tagged ‘women and children’

Dispute over deadly US Afghan raid

January 24, 2009
Al Jazeera, January 24, 2008

The US-led international force has come under strong
criticism by the Afghan president [AFP]

A claim by US forces in Afghanistan that they killed 15 Taliban fighters in the eastern province of Laghman, has been disputed by village elders.

A US statement said on Saturday that soldiers killed the fighters after coming under fire from opposition fighters.

But the elders say all those who died were civilians.

“The operation in Mehtar Lam District, approximately 60km northeast of Kabul City, targeted a Taliban commander believed to conduct terrorist activities throughout the Kabul, Laghman and Kapisa provinces,” a US military statement said.

“As coalition forces approached the wanted militant’s compound, several groups of armed militants exited their homes and began manoeuvering on the force.”

Nine fighters were killed by small-arms fire and four killed by “precision close-aire support”, the statement said, adding that two other fighters were killed during a subsequent serach of the houses in the compound.

‘Civilians killed’

One of the attackers killed in the initial fight was later identified as female, the US military statement said.

But Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, head of the provincial council in Laghman, said village elders had told him in the hours after the raid that those killed were civilians.

Rahmzai relayed questions from the Associated Press news agency to the village elders directly, who responded by saying that swear on the Quran that all those killed were innocent.

They said that women and children were among the dead, and told Rahmzai that they have no link to Taliban fighters.

Independent assessment by journalists and human-rights monitors of the competing claims is complicated by the level of danger in the territory to unarmed outsiders.

Competing claims

While Afghan villagers have been accused of inflating civilian death claims to receive more compensation, the US military has in the past been charged with not fully acknowledging the deaths of civilians due to its raids.

In the immediate wake of a battle in August in the village of Azizabad, the US military said no civilians were killed.

Eventually a US investigation found that 33 civilians had been killed in that raid.

The Afghan government and the UN said that 90 civilians died in the incident.

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, said last week that the US and countries serving in the Nato military alliance are continuing air raids in civilian areas, despite his call for them to stop.

Kabul recently sent Nato headquarters a draft agreement that would give Afghanistan more control over future Nato deployments in the country.

The draft also says that Nato troops should no longer conduct searches of Afghan homes.

The US military is facing a stern challenge in maintaining order in Afghanistan in the face of a resurgent Taliban.

Extra troops

US marines are ready to leave Iraq quickly so that 20,000 soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan, James Conway, Marine Corps commandant, said on Friday.

“The time is right for marines to leave Iraq,” the senior marine officer said.

About 2,200 marines are currently serving in Afghanistan, as part of the 34,000-strong US military contingent there.

In all, US military planners are expected to deploy a total of 30,000 extra troops to the country in the next 12 to 18 months, reflecting the emphasis that Barack Obama, the US president, is putting on the war in Afghanistan.

And while the US prepares to boost its forces, Karzai is coming under international pressure over the efficacy of his leadership.

“They have been holding on to Karzai in the hope of bringing about some semblance of governance in Afghanistan but recently Nato secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that the problems in Afghanistan stem from governance rather than from terrorism,” Imtiaz Gul, a political analyst in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, told Al Jazeera.

“If we are to go by what Scheffer says, Karzai’s days are numbered. There are going to be very tough elections in Afghanistan in the next few months.”

The killing fileds of Afghanistan: American airstrikes kill 76 Afghan civilians

August 23, 2008

US-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan yesterday, most of them children, the country’s Interior Ministry said.

The coalition denied killing civilians. Civilian deaths in military operations have become an emotive issue among Afghans, many of whom feel international forces take too little care when launching air strikes, undermining support for their presence.

“Seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred today in a coalition forces operation in Herat province,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Coalition forces bombarded the Azizabad area of Shindand district in Herat province on Friday afternoon, the ministry said. Nineteen of the victims were women, seven of them men and the rest children under the age of 15, it said.

US-led coalition forces denied killing any civilians. They said 30 militants had been killed in an air strike in Shindand district in the early hours of Friday and no further air strikes had been launched in the area later in the day.

Air strikes took place after Afghan and coalition soldiers were ambushed by insurgents while on a patrol targeting a known Taliban commander in Herat, the US military said in a statement.

“Insurgents engaged the soldiers from multiple points within the compound using small-arms and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire,” it said. “The joint forces responded with small-arms fire and an air strike killing 30 militants.”

A senior police commander in western Afghanistan confirmed the incident but could not say how many civilians died.

“More than 30 people have been killed. I cannot say how many of them are civilians,” General Ikramuddin Yawar told Reuters.

A spokesman for the Defence Ministry in Kabul said US special forces and Afghan troops had been carrying out an operation against a commander named Mulla Sidiq, who was planning to attack a US base in Herat. “Twenty-five Taliban were killed, including Sidiq and one other commander,” said spokesman General Zaher Azimi.

“Unfortunately, five civilians were killed in the bombing.”

Afghanistan has seen a surge in violence this year as the Taliban steps up its campaign of guerrilla attacks, backed by suicide and roadside bombs, to overthrow the pro-western Afghan government and drive out foreign troops.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) fired artillery rounds into Pakistan from the eastern province of Paktika yesterday in a coordinated attack with the Pakistani military, the Isaf said.

The rounds were fired at militants across the border who the Pakistani military said were preparing to fire rockets at an Isaf base in Paktika, Isaf said in a statement.

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