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Archive for the ‘Civilian Casualties’ Category

Afghan report: 37 civilians killed in US strike

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Noor Khan
Associated Press
Fri Nov 7, 6:51 am ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A U.S. coalition airstrike and clashes with the Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan earlier this week killed 37 civilians and 26 insurgents, according to an Afghan government report released Friday.

The report also accused the Taliban militants of seeking shelter near a wedding party in the Kandahar province’s Shah Wali Kot district shortly after ambushing a coalition patrol on Monday, according to the findings compiled by the governor of Kandahar province.

The report said that another 27 civilians were wounded in the strike. It added that the government has already paid $2,000 to families of each victim, and $100 to those who were wounded — a standard practice in these cases.

The majority of the civilians killed were woman and children, the report said.

After the strikes and the clashes, villager Abdul Jalil, a grape farmer whose niece was getting married, told an Associated Press reporter at the scene of the bombing that U.S. troops and Taliban fighters had been fighting about a half mile from his home.

Fighter aircraft destroyed his compound and killed 37 people, Jalil said than.

Following these deaths, President Hamid Karzai urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to help stop the killing of civilians in coalition operations, actions which undermine popular support for the Afghan government and the international mission.

On Thursday, another coalition airstrike killed seven civilians and 13 Taliban militants in the northwestern Badghis province, Afghan officials said.

Civilian casualties in operations by foreign troops have strained relations between Karzai’s government and its foreign backers. Despite U.S. and NATO pledges to take greater care in targeting, the incidents have continued.

U.S. and NATO commanders often blame Taliban fighters for using civilians as human shields, thus causing civilian casualties.

The U.S. military said Thursday that civilians “reportedly attempted to leave the area, but the insurgents forced them to remain.”

The statement did not say where the U.S. got that report from. It quoted Kandahar’s police chief as saying several civilians were injured while attempting to leave the area.

Separately, a clash between police and the Taliban in neighboring Zabul province on Friday, killed seven insurgents and wounded two policemen, said provincial deputy police chief Jalani Khan.

More than 5,300 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press based on figures provided by the Afghan government and international officials.

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November 9, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Air strikes killed about 40 civilians: Afghan president

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November 5, 2008

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday around 40 civilians, including women and children, were killed in international air strikes that hit a village in southern Afghanistan.

Villagers had earlier said around 36 civilians were killed in Monday’s strike, which hit a wedding party, but Afghan authorities were unable to give a number of casualties.

The president “condemned the air strike which killed around 40 and wounded another 28 civilians in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province,” a statement from his office said.

Reports said the dead included women and children, the statement said.

“Safeguarding the life and property of the people of Afghanistan is one of the basic responsibilities of the Afghan government,” the president said.

“Once again we remind the coalition forces that by any way possible they should avoid civilian casualties and not allow the killing and injury of innocent people of Afghanistan for the sake of some criminal terrorists.”

There are about 70,000 international troops in Afghanistan, around half of them US nationals, helping the government fight an insurgency led by the extremist Taliban who were in government between 1996-2001.

After several incidents that caused civilian casualties, Karzai has urged them to avoid harming ordinary people in their operations, with the issue threatening to undermine support for his government and its allies.

Karzai said in the statement that Afghan villages were “not the place to fight terrorism” and would yield no success in efforts to defeat insurgents.

Instead, the coalition forces should “focus the war on terrorism on eradicating their nests, their training centres and the sources of equipment,” the president said.

He has long called for his international allies to attack militant sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan that he and others say are feeding fighters and weapons into the growing violence in Afghanistan.

The US Forces Afghanistan has acknowledged that some civilians were injured and maybe some were killed in Monday’s strikes intended to target militants in Shah Wali Kot.

An investigation was under way with the interior ministry, it said.

Villagers told AFP around 36 people were killed including relatives of the bride and groom, although the couple was alive.

Karzai, expressing his condolences, ordered Kandahar authorities to assist the wounded and the families of the dead.

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November 5, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Air strike kills 7 in west Afghanistan, official says

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Fri Sep 5, 5:35 AM ET

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Seven people, including two children, were killed in an air strike in western Afghanistan on Friday that was aimed at the house of a Taliban commander, a district official said.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S-led coalition.

More than 500 civilians have been killed during operations by foreign and Afghan forces against the militants so far this year, according to the Afghan government and some aid groups, fuelling public anger and causing a rift with foreign forces.

The latest attack occurred in Farah province, which adjoins Herat where the government says more than 90 civilians were killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike last month.

The U.S. military disputes the Herat casualty figure.

“Seven people, including two children, have been killed in the air raid,” said the district official, who asked not to be identified. He said it was not clear if adults among the dead were members of the Taliban.

Farah’s deputy governor Mohammad Younus Rasooli confirmed the bombing and said there were casualties, although he did not have a precise figure.

Anger has mounted in Afghanistan since the August 22 raid in Herat’s Shindand district. The Afghan government says most of the 90 dead there were women and children, an allegation supported by the United Nations.

The U.S. military said its probe found that five to seven civilians were killed in addition to 30 to 35 Taliban fighters, which included a local commander.

(Reporting by Sharafuddin Sharafiyaar; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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September 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Killings of 5 children by foreign forces further inflame tensions in Afghanistan

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By AMIR SHAH
Associated Press
September 1, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Foreign and Afghan forces killed five children in two separate incidents Monday, further inflaming tensions in the country over the killings of civilians by troops from the U.S. and other countries.

NATO said it accidentally killed three children in an artillery strike in eastern Afghanistan. It said NATO forces fired the rounds after insurgents attacked its patrol in Gayan district of Paktika province and one of the rounds hit a house, killing three children and injuring seven civilians.

In a separate incident, foreign and Afghan forces killed a man and his two children and during a raid near Kabul, police and witnesses said. Angry men gathered at the victims’ house in the Utkheil area east of the capital, where the three bodies were displayed inside a mud-walled compound. The man’s wife was wounded in the operation, said Yahya Khan, a cousin.

In another sign of the sensitivity over civilian deaths, NATO issued an unusual statement warning that the Taliban planned to make a false claim about the killings of civilians in the south.

The latest deaths deepened strains between the Afghan government — under pressure from an increasingly irate public — and foreign forces in the country who are accused of killing dozens of civilians only in the past few weeks.

Afghan officials accuse foreign forces of killing up to 90 civilians during an Aug. 22 operation in the country’s west. The U.S. denies the accusation, saying its troops and Afghan commandos killed 25 militants and five civilians in the operation.

The raid in the eastern outskirts of Kabul was conducted by U.S. troops backed by Afghan intelligence agents, said police officer Qubaidullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name. He said the raid killed a man and two of his children and wounded his wife.

The raid left the house with broken windows and bullet holes in the walls. Three other men, all the victims’ cousins, were detained during the operation but later released, Khan said.

U.S. coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry said no American troops took part in the operation. NATO-led forces said they had no information about the raid and could not confirm their troops participated either.

Separately, NATO said it was anticipating a Taliban claim of further civilian casualties in the south. In a statement late Sunday, NATO said it had received information from “a reliable source” that insurgents planned to falsely claim international military forces killed up to 70 civilians in Sangin district in southern Helmand province.

The military alliance also said its forces had helped more than 20 wounded civilians who approached two of its bases in Helmand province.

NATO said the civilians were wounded in two separate incidents involving insurgents.

“Insurgents ransacked three compounds and killed three women and an unspecified number of children,” in Helmand’s Sarevan Qaleh village, NATO said in a statement, quoting one of those wounded. “He then reported that the insurgents had shot him in both kneecaps before fleeing,” it said.

The claims could not be independently verified and have not been reported by Afghan authorities.

NATO said it condemns the “use of the plight of innocent civilians for propaganda gain by insurgents.”

The warning of a possible civilian casualty claim came hours after the separate U.S.-led coalition command said its troops killed more than 220 insurgents in a week of fighting in the same province. The coalition did not say where the militants were killed.

It was unclear whether the two reports were related.

The issue of civilian deaths is a particularly sensitive topic in Afghanistan following the Aug. 22 bombing of the village of Azizabad in Herat province by the U.S.-led coalition. An Afghan government commission said 90 civilians were killed, a finding backed by a preliminary U.N. report.

The U.S. military has said 25 militants and five civilians were killed, and that it is investigating the incident.

The U.S. has long said insurgents use false civilian death claims as a propaganda tool to undermine support for international forces and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Claims of civilian deaths can be tricky. Relatives of Afghan victims are given condolence payments by the government and the international military forces, providing an incentive to make false claims.

But Karzai has castigated Western military commanders over civilian deaths resulting from their raids. The Taliban and other insurgents use the deaths as leverage to turn Afghans away from the government, he says.

The top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, said Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition, Afghan government and United Nations would jointly investigate the Aug. 22 raid.

___

Associated Press reporters Jason Straziuso and Fisnik Abrashi in Kabul contributed to this report.

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September 3, 2008 at 3:02 am

Afghans protest civilian casualties

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Press TV (Iran)
Mon, 01 Sep 2008 09:17:25 GMT

Hundreds of Afghan civilians have taken to streets in the capital Kabul to protest against civilian casualties by US-led forces.

The protest comes after US-led forces killed a man and his two children in the eastern outskirts of Kabul early Monday.

Residents and witnesses say US-led troops carried out a pre-dawn raid in Hud Kheil area, killing a man and two of his sons aged one and two. The man’s wife was also wounded in the operation.

“It was past one o’clock when the troops came and surrounded our houses” said a resident.

“They threw hand grenades on one house and killed three family members”, he added.

Local television showed footage of the bodies and a damaged house with broken windows and bullet holes in the walls.

“Are these two children al-Qaeda?”, an angry resident asked.

The issue of civilian deaths is a particularly sensitive topic in Afghanistan. On August 22, in one of the biggest civilian killings by coalition forces since the US-led invasion of 2001, a US air strike killed nearly 90 Afghan civilians, including women and children, in the village of Azizabad in Herat province.

Afghan President Hamed Karzai has strongly criticized foreign forces for the civilian deaths, saying innocent people are becoming the victims of “reckless operations” by foreign forces, calling for a review of foreign military presence in the country.

He also warned that the anger felt by many Afghans towards foreign forces in Afghanistan may reduce support for his government.

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September 3, 2008 at 3:02 am

US probe finds fewer Afghan deaths than UN claimed

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By JASON STRAZIUSO
Associated Press / September 2, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S. investigation into U.N. and Afghan allegations that dozens of civilians were killed in fighting around a village found Tuesday that seven of the dead were civilians.

An Afghan government commission concluded that 90 civilians were killed in the Aug. 22 fighting in Azizabad — a claim backed by a preliminary U.N. report. The U.S. report Tuesday said 30 to 35 of those killed were Taliban fighters.

The civilian death claims in Azizabad has caused new friction between President Hamid Karzai and his Western supporters. Karzai has long castigated Western military commanders over civilian deaths resulting from their raids.

The U.S. report said American and Afghan forces began taking fire from militants as the forces approached Azizabad in the early hours of Aug. 22. The incoming fire “justified use of well-aimed small-arms fire and close air support to defend the combined force,” the report said.

The U.S. said its range in casualty numbers was determined by observation of enemy movements during the engagement and on-site observations immediately after the battle. It said a known Taliban commander, Mullah Siddiq, and five to seven civilians were among the dead. Two civilians were wounded. Five Taliban were detained, the report said.

The report left open the possibility that evidence could emerge to prove that more people died in Azizabad. “No other evidence that may have been collected by other organizations was provided to the U.S. Investigating Officer and therefore could not be considered in the findings,” the report said.

No conclusive photos or video have emerged to back the claim of 90 civilians killed. However, Afghanistan’s secretive intelligence service is said to have video and photos of scores of dead civilians.

The U.S. report said that investigators discovered evidence that the militants planned to attack a nearby coalition base. Evidence collected included weapons, explosives, intelligence materials and an access badge to the base, as well as photographs from inside and outside the base, the report said.

The report said that the investigating officer took statements from more than 30 participants, both Afghan and U.S., watched video of the engagement, and looked at topographic photo comparisons of the area before and after, including burial sites.

Karzai ratcheted up pressure on Western militaries after the Azizabad incident by ordering a review of whether the U.S. and NATO should be allowed to use airstrikes or carry out raids in villages. Karzai also called for an updated “status of force” agreement between the Afghan government and foreign militaries.

Claims of civilian deaths can be tricky. Relatives of Afghan victims are given condolence payments by Karzai’s government and the U.S. military, providing an incentive to make false claims. And U.S. officials say Taliban militants force civilians to make false claims as part of their propaganda war against the West.

The top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition, Afghan government and U.N. would launch a probe into the raid.

No Afghan officials have confirmed that the Afghan government would take part in a three-way investigation.

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September 3, 2008 at 2:59 am

Afghan official ‘saw bodies of 50 children’ killed in US strike

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By Agence France Presse (AFP)

August 30, 2008

KABUL: An Afghan politician told AFP Friday how he had helped dig out the bodies of women and children after US-led air strikes a week ago, reiterating with another official that around 90 civilians were killed.

The US-led coalition disputes the number and says only five civilians died along with 25 Taliban. US officials have also reportedly questioned the figure because of a lack of physical evidence.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, US defense officials said that the Afghan and UN counts of the civilians killed in the raid were overstated. The sources said that the US administration was pushing for a joint probe into the incident in order to reconcile the conflicting accounts of the incident.

“I saw with my own eyes bodies of 50 boys and girls under 15 years of age,” said Herat provincial councillor Naik Mohammad Ishaq.

“I saw 19 women and seven men. I helped locals to dig them out [of rubble] the first day,” he told AFP.

He said he went to the area of the August 22 strikes in the district of Shindand hours after the attack and he was told that more bodies had been found the day after, taking the toll to 91.

“We lined up the bodies of 76 civilians the first day in the local mosque and the Afghan intelligence department took a video recording as proof that most of them were women, children and all civilians,” he said.

Ishaq said, however, that he did not have pictures of the dead.

The head of a delegation sent by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to investigate also defended the toll figure, similar to one reached by a United Nations team.

“There is no doubt that 90 civilians were killed in the US-led air strike,” said Mohammad Eqbal Safi, the head of the Lower House’s national defense committee.

The team had a list of the names and ages of all those killed, he said, and had interviewed locals and seen eight houses that were destroyed as well as fresh graves.

He claimed body parts – which he said were from civilians – were still at the site when his team arrived two days later.

The 2:00 a.m. strikes had hit people ahead of an event due the following day to mark the anniversary of the death of a fellow villager, Safi said.

“It was public knowledge that it was a gathering for the ceremony and there were no Taliban there.”

Safi said locals believed “agents” had deliberately given wrong information to the US-led and Afghan troops involved in the operation.

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September 3, 2008 at 2:56 am