Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The New York Times & Wall Street Journal – 2011-03-11 12:59:22
NATO Troops Kill Karzai’s Cousin in Botched Night Raid
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 10, 2011) — The embarrassment and the apologies keep coming for NATO troops in Afghanistan today, after an overnight raid in the tiny village of Karz, in the Kandahar Province, attacked the home of a cousin of President Hamid Karzai.
The cousin, Yar Mohammed Karzai, was 60-years old and a lifelong resident of the village, the Karzai family’s ancestoral home. He was shot in the head and killed by NATO troops. His son was briefly arrested as a suspect but later released. Troops also captured three bodyguards and two neighbors who came over to see what the ruckus was, terming them “suspected insurgents.”
The bodyguards, according to President Karzai’s half-brother, Kandahar Provincial Council Chair Wali Karzai, were assigned by him after an attack by militants killed Yar Mohammed’s other son. They remain in custody.
NATO reported in the wake of the killing that he was not the “prime target” and insisted that they had already apologized to the Afghan government for yet another botched killing of an innocent man.
Such apologies have been coming all too regularly lately, however, and given that President Karzai just got done spurning an apology over the weekend for killing nine children in Kunar, the news of his cousin’s death is unlikely to be shrugged off.
History Repeating Itself:
9 Afghan Kids Killed by â€˜Mistakeâ€™
Adam McDonald / AntiWar.com
(March 08, 2011) — While writing the blog entry for Kathy Kelly’s recent Antiwar Radio interview, I did a Google search for the New York Times piece on the nine firewood-gathering Afghan boys killed by NATO gunships. I clicked on what I thought was the correct link, a Times article appropriately titled “Afghan Villagers Torn by Grief After US Raid Kills 9 Children.”
This story, however, was from 2003. [See story below.] Instead of nine boys gunned down while gathering firewood, seven boys were blown up while playing marbles and two girls were killed while fetching water from a stream. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was “profoundly shocked” and sent a delegation to investigate, while the US military command “expressed regret.”
After nearly ten years in Afghanistan, US and NATO military operations are still plagued by mistakes and faulty intelligence; still killing civilians with regularity; still making the same excuses. When is enough, enough?
Afghan Villagers Torn by Grief
After US Raid Kills 9 Children
Carlotta Gall / The New York Times
HUTALA, Afghanistan (December 7, 2003) — Their embroidered caps, shredded with shrapnel, lay beside a half-dozen small rubber galoshes and caked pools of blood. Seven boys and two girls died here on Saturday morning in an American airstrike, and their bodies were still lying in the dust when American soldiers arrived by helicopter to assess the results of the attack three hours later, villagers and American soldiers at the scene said Sunday.
A 25-year-old Afghan man was also killed, the villagers said, while the intended target, a Taliban suspect who lived here and bragged about attacking foreign aid workers, might have gotten away, contrary to official accounts that he, too, was among the dead. Some villagers said the suspect and his family, whose house was unscathed in the attack, had not been seen for weeks.
The attack has raised questions about the quality of American military intelligence and the effectiveness of using air power to kill fugitive members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda who are hiding in villages.
Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, said he was “profoundly shocked” at the deaths of the children and had sent a delegation to investigate and to offer help to the families. In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Karzai said future military operations should be better coordinated with the Afghan government.
The American military command expressed regret for the killings and sent officers to this village in a remote area of southern Ghazni Province on Sunday to apologize. But that did little to erase the shock, grief and anger over the dead children.
“As a human, what would you think?” said Khial Muhammad Hoseini, the deputy governor of the province. “Everyone would be angry at this. We cannot afford this sort of thing, killing innocent Afghans.”
Villagers said the dead boys, who were 8 to 12 years old, had been in front of a house, and the girls, 9 and 10, had been fetching water from a stream alongside it when two American A-10 attack jets firing rockets and machine guns struck at 10:45 a.m.
“The boys were playing marbles,” said one villager, thrusting forward a gnarled hand with three chipped glass marbles he said he had retrieved from the dust.
The rockets made 30 to 40 small craters in the ground around where the children had died. The 10th victim, an uncle of the two girls, rushed toward the stream after the first plane struck and was cut down beside them, said a woman who identified herself as the man’s mother and the dead girls’ grandmother.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
US Raid Kills Karzai Cousin
Afghanistan Criticizes American-Led Assault;
Incident Heightens Tensions Over Civilian Deaths
Dion Nissenbaum and Habib Khan Totakhil / Wall Street Journal
KABUL (March 11, 2011) — An American-led special forces team killed an older cousin of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday in a night raid that aggravates tensions between the Afghan leader and the US over civilian deaths.
Mr. Karzai’s office criticized the assault and renewed a call for US forces to end night raids, a sensitive issue in Afghanistan. “This case reaffirms the fact that night raids can be very devastating to the cause that we all jointly pursue,” said Waheed Omar, Mr. Karzai’s chief spokesman.
The killing of Mr. Karzai’s cousin came days after the U.S.-led military sparked an outcry with an errant airstrike in eastern Afghanistan that killed nine Afghan children cutting firewood. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a personal apology for the incident after an angry condemnation by Mr. Karzai.
American and Afghan officials said they were trying to figure out what happened early Thursday morning when U.S. and Afghan special forces conducted the deadly raid in Mr. Karzai’s ancestral village of Karz, south of Kandahar city.
Relatives of the cousin, Yar Mohammad Karzai, said the 65-year-old farmer was shot and killed in his bedroom by U.S. forces during the operation.
Farid Ahmad Khan Karzai, the slain man’s 22-year-old son, said he was awakened around 2 a.m. by the sound of helicopters descending on the family compound.
The younger Mr. Karzai said he was handcuffed and blindfolded after telling U.S. soldiers that his elderly father was inside the compound. While blindfolded, Mr. Karzai said he heard a gunshot and later saw his father’s body in his bedroom.
U.S. officials challenged Afghan claims and suggested that President Karzai’s cousin was shot after he was spotted carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and a flashlight through a nearby building during a search of the compound.
“The security force assessed the male as an immediate threat to the security force and engaged him,” the US-led coalition said in a statement.
The US military said that during the compound raid it captured a local Taliban leader responsible for planning several car-bomb attacks.
US officials initially suggested that the slain man was the father of the Taliban leader. But they retracted that claim after Mr. Karzai’s relatives came forward to dispute the U.S. version of events.
“We want the people responsible for murdering my people to be punished,” said the younger Mr. Karzai. “He was an innocent old man. He was not even involved in politics.”
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Afghan president’s half-brother who runs the Kandahar provincial council and is the province’s most powerful politician, took a different view. “I don’t blame the U.S. troops because they have not killed him intentionally,” he said. “He was mistakenly killed.”
Night raids have been a source of tension between the Afghan president and U.S. commanders, who have dramatically stepped up their use of such operations. U.S. military leaders say thousands of insurgents have been killed or captured in such raids, which are now being conducted an average of 18 times each night.
American officials said that special forces open fire in 20% of the raids and that the vast majority end without civilians being hurt or killed.
Still, many Afghans see it as an insult that foreigners invade the sanctity of their homes, and see the women inside.
Thursday’s incident came one day after U.N. officials praised American-led forces in Afghanistan for taking steps to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The U.N. said Taliban-led insurgents were responsible for three-quarters of the civilian casualties in 2010.
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