Friday, August 3, 2007

Raising The Bar: 'Precision Strike' On 'Taliban Commanders' May Claim Highest Civilian Death Toll Of Afghan War

In Afghanistan, officials are looking into many reports of civilian deaths and injuries after a supposedly precision NATO/US air strike, on a meeting of Taliban leaders. According to Al Jazeera,
The US military said in a statement that the air raid had been conducted against two "notorious Taliban commanders" holding a meeting in a remote area of the Baghran district.

"During a sizeable meeting of senior Taliban commanders, coalition forces employed precision guided munitions on their location after ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area," a statement said.
And did these precision guided munitions take care of the notorious Taliban commanders?
[The statement] added that the fate of the pair was unknown.
Only later did the Pentagon claim that three Taliban leaders had been killed.

But do you want to talk about fate? How's this for fate?

Considering that there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area, an astonishing number of innocent civilians appear to have been injured and/or killed.

Some sources are reporting 20 civilians injured; the BBC says 50 civilians are injured and many feared dead, the Muslim News says 200 are dead and the CBC says the total of dead and injured may be about 300. If the worst of these reports are even partially accurate, the extent of the "collateral damage" would exceed any atrocity committed in Afghanistan since the war there began.

According to the AP's Noor Kahn in the Guardian,
The attacks in Helmand province's Baghran district struck militants who had gathered to watch the hanging of two men accused by the Taliban of spying for the government, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman.

The ministry said its intelligence reports indicated three militant leaders, including Taliban commander for Helmand province Mullah Rahim, were among those killed Thursday. The Taliban commander for all of southern Afghanistan, Dadullah Mansoor, was at the scene but his fate was not immediately known, Azimi said.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, denied Rahim was killed.
Abdul Qodous of Reuters tells a different story:
Afghan authorities were checking on Friday reported heavy civilian casualties after air strikes by Western forces in the southern province of Helmand.

At least 20 wounded civilians were brought to a main hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, Helmand's police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said.

"I can confirm there were heavy bombardments," Andiwal told Reuters by phone. "We have heard of heavy casualties too and have sent a team to investigate this."

A provincial lawmaker in Kabul, Mohammad Anwar, also received reports of high civilian casualties.

In the Lashkar Gah hospital, Shokhi Khan, a relative of one of the wounded, said several hundred civilians were killed or wounded in the strikes.

He said people had gathered for picnics and to go to a shrine in Baghran district north of Lashkar Gah on Thursday when the raids started.

A group of wounded civilians were also brought to a hospital in neighboring Kandahar. Journalists were barred from filming or talking to them inside the wards.

But several family members of victims talked to journalists and gave accounts similar to Khan's.

One, Haji Hakim Jan, a 27-year-old barefooted man, said he lost four of his brothers.

"I had another brother of mine and an eight-year-old sister wounded in the bombing," Jan said, adding that the deaths would alienate civilians from Western troops and make people join the Taliban insurgents.
Nahhh! Do you think?

How angry would you get if death fell from the sky and landed on members of your family?