Women, children killed in southern Afghanistan raids
February 4, 2008
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) – Raids by Afghan and NATO troops against Taliban insurgents in southern and southwestern Afghanistan killed several civilians, among them children, local officials said Monday.
Ten people were killed in southwestern Farah province and two others were killed in southern Helmand province, they said. Authorities from Farah gave conflicting figures for the number of civilians killed.
The strike in Farah late Sunday, involving ground and air forces, took place in Bakwa district, which has seen a series of attacks by fighters with the Taliban movement, in government between 1996 and 2001.
The governor of Bakwa district said that two women and three children were among the dead and only one Taliban fighter was killed.
“A Taliban commander had been invited to the house,” said Khan Agha. “In the operation nine people were killed, which includes two women and three kids.” The rest were men.
But provincial governor Ghulam Mohaidun Balouch said that out of 10 people killed in the raid on a Taliban “cell” most were rebels.
“Among the 10, eight are Taliban plus the wife of the commander and his child,” he said.
Balouch said Italian NATO troops, who are based in the nearby province of Herat, were involved.
Meanwhile, NATO-led troops raided a civilian house overnight in Lashkar Gah, the capital of troubled Helmand province, killing a man and a child, provincial police chief Mohammad Hussain Andiwal told AFP.
“The forces have killed the owner of the house and a little girl,” he said.
Andiwal said the foreign forces have taken only two “cell phones” from the house and the reasons behind the raid were not known.
“We don’t know why they raided the house and on what basis,” he said.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said it was not involved in the raids.
Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Hartmund Beilman said the force “deny any involvement of ISAF in any aerial bombing (in Farah). ISAF is very sorry about civilian casualties but ISAF is not involved.”
Regarding the raid in Lashkar Gah, the colonel said he “cannot confirm any involvement by ISAF troops,” adding they “have not even been informed of such an incident.”
The issue of civilian casualties in military operations against Taliban insurgents is one of the most sensitive aspects of the international effort in Afghanistan.
Separately, Afghan police clashed with Taliban militants in the Deh Rawood district of central Uruzgan province on Sunday, killing nine militants, provincial police chief Juma Gul Himat told AFP.
“Nine Taliban were killed. Eight Taliban bodies were left at the battlefield. There were no casualties to police forces,” Himat said.
There has been a major scaling down in the level of a Taliban insurgency in the past two months due to harsh winter conditions. Taliban Islamists were forced from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan.