Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nato strike kills 33 civilians in Afghanistan

BBC reports that at least 33 civilians were killed in a Nato air strike that included women and children in southern Afghanistan on Sunday.
Nato said it hit a suspected insurgent convoy, but ground forces later found "a number of individuals killed and wounded", including women and children.
The attack, in Uruzgan province, was not part of a major Nato-led offensive in neighbouring Helmand province.
Civilian deaths in air strikes have caused widespread resentment in Afghanistan, and embarrassment to Nato.

Last year, Gen Stanley McChrystal, the Nato and US commander in Afghanistan, introduced much tougher rules of engagement in a bid to minimise such casualties.
The BBC's Chris Morris in Kabul says three vehicles on a road were hit by the strike on Sunday morning. But Sultan Ali, the governor of Uruzgan province, told the BBC all of the dead were civilians.
McCrystal has apologised to President Hamid Karzai and pledged a full investigation into the latest deaths" I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people, and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission.

These tougher rules of engagement don’t seem to make any difference to fatalities.
Is this just paper exercise? Surely if these rules were being applied then there would be a difference. They keep saying we are here to protect the Afghan people. However they keep making these mistakes again and again and they will keep repeating it unless someone is held accountable. Of course that is not going to happen because Afghan lives are cheap. You can simply write it off as collateral damage and issue an apology. An apology is just meaningless to the people whose loved one have perished because someone else’s mistake. Foreign force are there to protect the Afghan people. Is is how one protects people?

These lives are cheap because they happen to be muslims..
Here is what has happened so far:

  • Sep 2009: Up to 140 civilians die in Kunduz province
  • May 2009: At least 26 civilians die in strikes in Farah province
  • Aug 2008: Ninety people killed in Herat province, UN says
  • July 2008: Raid in Nangarhar kills up to 47 civilians at wedding party

Whenever people in Afghanistan read of civilians being killed by foreign military forces, there is going to anger right across the political and social spectrum.