Who is my real enemy?

Published : Oct 09, 2009 00:00 IST

IN memory of 31-85 civilians killed, including, Per Aghas female family member, Jamila Bibis 20 family members, Abdul Ayes 22 family members, Taj Mohammads 10 family members, Haji Shah Mohammads 3 nephews, Abdul Karims son, Abdul Ghafoors wife, 4 sons and 2 daughters [on] late Tuesday, October 24, 2006, in villages like Sperwan Ghar, Lay Kundi, Laknai, and so on in the Panjwayi district, Kandahar province.

NATO forces in Afghanistan have killed scores of civilians in a single operation, bombing them in their own homes as they celebrated the end of Ramadan. U.S./NATO warplanes bombed villages during the last day of the major Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr in a region that was allegedly cleared of resistance fighters two months ago during the much-heralded Operation Medusa.

Witnesses said the U.S./NATO precision bombing razed 25 homes in 4-5 hours of (NATO typically reported it had allegedly killed 38 Taliban fighters). Ahmadullah, from Zangawad village, said 50 homes were bombed and that residents had retrieved 30 dead bodies from the rubble. Many corpses were still buried. Per Agha moved his injured relatives to a hospital in Kandahar and said one woman in his family was killed. Agha said some family members were missing.

After visiting the wounded in a hospital, Nik Mohammad, a tribal elder, said that 60 civilians had died in the incident on Tuesday. A villager, Karim Jan, said between 60 and 70 had died. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that at least 70 civilians were killed. Another villager, Jamila Bibi, said about 20 members of her family were buried under the rubble when their homes collapsed from the bombing. Abdul Aye said his brothers, uncles, nieces, and nephews were buried when a NATO air strike collapsed the thick, dried mud walls of their village home.

Everyone is very angry at the government and the coalition. There was no Taliban, Abdul Aye, a villager, said through tears at the funeral. He said 22 members of his extended family were killed, adding, These tragedies just keep continuing. At a Kandahar funeral, a villager named Taj Mohammad said 10 members of his family died in the fighting. There were no militants, he said. Innocent people have been killed.

Another man said women and children were among 15 members of his family who had been killed. The airplanes came and were bombing until 3 a.m. And, in the morning, they started hitting our village with mortars and rockets. They didnt allow anybody to come to our help.

Other refugees reported that NATO troops had sealed off the roads and that some wounded made it to Kandahar by crossing fields. A hospital attendant, Dad Mohammad, said NATO forces had heavily hit Laknai village in the Zangawad area of Panjwayi, saying 90 civilians had perished. Lawmaker Habibullah Khan said 22 people were buried overnight in a mass grave in Mirwisa Mina, a village about 10 miles west of Kandahar.

Atta Mohammad, 40, from Zangawad village, which was bombed during the NATO air strikes on Tuesday, was waiting in front of the surgical ward of Kandahars Mir Wais Hospital to visit relatives. [Some] 62 of our villagers have been killed and buried, including women and children, while another 12 were injured during the air strikes, Mohammad said.

There are even households which have lost 20 to 22 of their family members in these air strikes. Just yesterday we recovered some of the dead bodies trapped under the ruins using a tractor. Toor, 25, an Afghan farmer, lay covered with dust and bloody on a stretcher in Mir Wais, and recounted, We were under bombardment and air strike from midnight onwards we couldnt move, there was fire everywhere. Then I [got] hit in the leg. I crawled out with my wife and three brothers. All of us were wounded. We saw dead and wounded lying everywhere as we escaped: men, women and children.

One local man who did not want to reveal his name said 20 members of his family had been killed and 10 injured. Anyone can come here to see our homes and area. There are no Taliban here. We all are nomads living in tents, he said. Each time they say that it was a mistake. They have destroyed us all in such mistakes. For Gods sake, come and see our situation.

Haji Shah Mohammad, a senior member of Kandahars provincial council, described, Ive just called President [Hamid] Karzai and he switched off the phone. Three of my nephews are dead and three more of my family are wounded. I called the Governor (Khalid) but he switched off his phone too. Who will hear us? Abdul Karim, an injured old man being treated at Mir Wais Hospital, said that as the foreign troops arrived, they shot dead my injured son on the spot.

Another wounded, Abdul Ghafoor, said seven of his family members were killed in the NATO air strike (his wife, four sons and two daughters). The Karzai regime puppets are not responding anymore until they can piece together their lies. Even the Karzai puppet regimes Interior Ministry spokesman initially admitted that more than 40 villagers had been killed in the NATO raids. The Panjwayi district chief told AFP he had reports of 60 civilians dying.

Kandahar provincial council member, Bismallah Afghanmal, noted that the Afghan Defence Ministry is heading yet another investigation. But Afghanmal said villagers were tired of investigations , These kinds of things have happened several times, and they [NATO] only say sorry. How can you compensate people who have lost their sons and daughters?

For his part, Hamid Karzai trotted out his usual apology when his innocent countrymen die at the hands of the U.S./NATO, saying he was hurt and saddened. On October 26, 2006, Haji Nik Mohammad from a village in the Panjwayi told assembled journalists: I prefer to join the Taliban forces because Taliban have so far killed only two people in my village while the coalition forces killed 63 people in a single day. Now you tell me who is my real enemy, the Taliban or the foreign troops?

An angry doctor at the Mir Wais Hospital told The Times (London) as three boys, all wounded by NATO/U.S. shrapnel, were wheeled in, What do you foreigners think you are doing? You bomb civilians, then come to talk to them. Better if you leave.

A senior NATO officer was quoted in The Globe and Mail on Friday saying what is being reported as civilian casualties are the bodies of insurgents.

Source: Afghan Victim Memorial Project at https://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/31_85_civilianskilled102406.htm

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