“When the commander in Kabul asked Obama for the extra troops, he knew the USA would end up with one achievement, and that is more civilian casualties.”
“Every time an American soldier gets killed, they bomb an entire village.”
“This thing is going to be $5 billion to $10 billion a month and 300 to 500 killed and wounded a month by next summer. That’s what we probably should expect. And that’s light casualties.”
On December 29 the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released figures demonstrating that Afghan civilian deaths had risen by 10 percent in the first ten months of 2009, from 1,838 during the same period a year earlier to 2,038. The majority of the killings were attributed to insurgent attacks, including those directed against U.S., NATO and government targets, but almost 500 civilians were killed by American and NATO forces.
Matters only grew worse last November and December, culminating in several massacres of Afghan civilians by Western forces at the end of the year.
In early December a NATO air strike killed thirteen civilians in Laghman province. One account also documents a deadly raid by American special forces there. “According to witnesses, US troops entered a number of houses near the provincial capital, Mehtar Lam, in an overnight operation. The victims included Mohammed Ismail, whose 10-year-old son, Rafiullah, described what happened: ‘When the soldiers came to our house, my father asked them, “Who are you?” Then they shot him in the head and told us, “Be quiet and tell us where the weapons are.”‘”
The chairman of the Laghman provincial council presciently commented on the killings that “When the commander in Kabul asked Obama for the extra troops, he knew the USA would end up with one achievement, and that is more civilian casualties.”
On the same day that the above-cited UN report was made public an air attack by U.S.-led warplanes killed four Afghans in the northern province of Baghlan. According to one report “A father and his three sons were reportedly among the [fatalities]. The raid also wounded eight others.”
A member of parliament from a neighboring province, Haji Farid, said after the aerial onslaught that “Every time an American soldier gets killed, they bomb an entire village.”
The following day a NATO missile strike killed seven Afghan civilians in Helmand province. According to the New York Times, “Neither NATO forces nor the Helmand governor’s office gave a definitive number of dead, but reports from local people said that five to seven civilians had been killed, including three children.” Later a spokesman for the governor of the province confirmed that seven civilians had been slain and another wounded.
Far more atrocious news broke the same day, December 30, when, according to the next day’s edition of The Times of London, “American-led troops were accused…of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead” in Kunar province near the Pakistani border.
U.S.-installed and -supported President Hamid Karzai dispatched an investigative team headed by former governor of Helmand province Assadullah Wafa to the scene of the massacre, dubbed by at least one news source as an Afghan My Lai.
A statement was later issued on the official website of the Afghan president that said in part: “The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead.”
The delegation’s head, Wafa, added that “US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit,” and was quoted as saying “I spoke to the local headmaster. It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”
The investigation he led established that eight of the victims were between the ages of 11 and 17. The slain students’ headmaster, Rahman Jan Ehsas, described the details of Barack Obama’s and top U.S. and NATO military commander Stanley McChrystal’s new special operations-led counterinsurgency approach as it was applied to his pupils:
“Seven students were in one room. A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.
“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attempted to both widen and evade responsibility for the murders by claiming “the raid was a joint operation and it was still under investigation,” a ploy quickly exposed when “Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zaher Azimy said Afghan troops had not taken part.”
Demonstrators, particularly university students and their instructors, took to the streets in the provinces of Kabul and Nangarhar denouncing the rapidly escalating and by now routine slaughter of civilians, including children, by U.S. and NATO troops and warplanes. Their chants included “Obama! Obama! Take your soldiers out of Afghanistan!” and “Stop killing us!”
Professors and students at Kabul University passed a resolution demanding that NATO troops leave Afghanistan.
Referring to the first of December’s massacres, a Middle Eastern newspaper wrote, “The raid in the eastern province of Laghman this month followed a pattern that has become sadly familiar in Afghanistan over recent years. As is often the case, international forces insisted militants were killed, but local officials and villagers claimed the dead were civilians.”
With the increase of U.S. and other NATO nations’ and partners’ troops to over 150,000 in the near future and the announced shift from counterterrorism to counterinsurgency operations, the killing of Afghan civilians will grow exponentially.
On the other side of the border, Washington’s and NATO’s proclaimed AfPak war is no less murderous.
On January 2 Dawn News, Pakistan’s first 24-hour English news channel, reported on its website that 44 CIA-directed Predator drone missile attacks last year had killed 708 people, only five of them alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. “According to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009.
“For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities….On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day.”
There has been no diminution of such attacks. In the waning days of 2009 they were intensified. On December 27 “At least 13 people were killed in a suspected United States drone attack” in North Waziristan. “Following the strike, a U.S. B-52 jet plane, along with other spy planes, continued their flights over the tribal areas….”
The preceding day another U.S. missile attack in North Waziristan killed three and wounded two people. “A statement from the [Pakistani] military Saturday said that a targeted airstrike at a compound in Orakzai had killed some civilians along with eight suspected militants.”
The U.S. launched deadly drone missile attacks in Pakistan’s North Waziristan on both ends of the New Year. On December 31 “Five people were killed and at least two more injured” and on January 1 “A US pilotless aircraft fired a missile into Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district” and “the attack destroyed [a] car and killed three people.”