Alissa J. Rubin / The New York Times & RAWA.org – 2011-05-13 22:54:53
Girl, 12, Killed in NATO Raid on Wrong Afghan Home
Alissa J. Rubin / The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan (May 12, 2011) — In the fertile lowlands of eastern Afghanistan it is already summer, and the warm nights send families out of sweltering houses and into their courtyards so that they can sleep in the relative cool of the night breezes.
That is why a 12-year-old girl, Nelofar, was sleeping outside with her family early Thursday morning.
A raid by NATO troops singled out the wrong house, and she was killed along with her uncle, who was the target of the raid, because he was incorrectly believed to be a local Taliban leader. NATO apologized for its error.
It was the third time in the past 18 months that raids had caused civilian casualties in Surkhrod District, which is just outside Jalalabad, the largest city in eastern Afghanistan.
“It was around 12 o’clock midnight, and we heard someone knocking at the door,” said Neik Mohammed, whose home was raided. “We thought it was thieves or criminals. A short time after the knocking, we heard a loud explosion; the explosion was from a grenade thrown into our yard. As it is warmer now, we sleep in the courtyard.
“My daughter, who was sleeping with us in the courtyard, was hit by the bomb’s shrapnel in her head, and she died on the spot,” Mr. Mohammed said.
NATO issued a statement that said she had been shot. “An individual ran out the back of the compound toward the outer security perimeter and was killed when the security force mistakenly identified what they suspected was a weapon on the individual,” it said. “Later, the force discovered the individual was an unarmed Afghan female adolescent.”
The uncle, Shukrullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, was a police officer; he had recently been transferred to Surkhrod District, where the raid occurred. He was 25 and had a wife and two daughters, said Mr. Mohammed, who was his brother-in-law and in whose home he was staying.
A police officer who arrived after the shooting said that Mr. Shukrullah, who was a graduate of the police academy, was at the house that night only by chance.
“He was supposed to be on patrol with others, but someone else went on patrol instead of him because he was still new and didn’t know the villages very well,” said the officer, who asked that his name not be used because he was not supposed to speak to reporters.
“He was a really good officer,” his colleague said, adding, “He was shot twice: once in the head and once in the chest. His pistol magazine was full. No round had been fired from it.”
The NATO statement said Mr. Shukrullah was shot because he was armed and had threatened the troops. “One man then threatened the security force with a pistol; the security force defended themselves, killing the man.”
Rear Adm. Harold Pittman, NATO’s deputy chief of staff for communications, apologized for the deaths. “We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologize to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions,” Admiral Pittman said. “We understand any civilian loss of life is detrimental to our cause and to our efforts to secure the population.”
For Mr. Mohammed, the words were little comfort. “They killed my 12 year-old innocent daughter and my brother-in-law and then told me, ‘We are sorry,'” he said. “What does it mean? What pain can be cured by this word ‘sorry’ ?”
An Afghan employee of The New York Times in Jalalabad contributed reporting.
Foreign Troops Kill Girl,
Police Officer in Nangarhar Raid
Abdul Mueed Hashimi
(May 12, 2011) — A 12-year old girl and a police officer, a relative of the girl, were killed by foreign troops during a raid on a house in eastern Nangarhar province, residents said on Thursday.
The troops blew up the house’s gate and entered at 1am last night in Myagan Banda village of Surkh Rod district, Naik Mohammad, father of the slain girl, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
“They (foreign troops) hurled a hand grenade at my daughter after she ran out of room in panic. She was killed on the spot,” the father said.
Another relative of the family, Shukrullah, who was a police officer at the provincial police headquarters, was also killed by the troops in the house, Mohammad said.
The officer used to stay with them because he could not commute to Qarghae district of Laghman from Jalalabad city daily, he said.
He said when they showed the foreign troops the ID card of the dead officer, they apologised at the end of the raid, saying they killed him mistakenly.
Mohammad asked President Hamid Karzai to investigate the raid on his house. He said the troops entered his house after throwing hand grenades inside.
A neighbour, Mirwais, said the troops got the family out and then started a search inside the house.
District chief, Ali Akbar, and district police chief, Mohammad Afzal, who visited the scene, refused to talk to media.
The governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, and provincial police chief, Ali Shah Paktiawal, confirmed the operation, but did not provide details.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) media office in Kabul said Afghan and coalition forces killed an armed man and a woman in Nangarhar on Wednesday. The operation was carried out in pursuit of a Taliban commander in Surkh Rod district, the force said in a statement.
It added the force called for inhabitants to exit peacefully, but a man did not listen and threatened the security personnel with a pistol and was shot dead.
The statement said initial assessment revealed that the killed man was a police officer.
A woman was mistakenly killed during the operation as security personnel thought she was a militant after she ran. But later they found it was young girl, the statement said.
“We are deeply shocked and apologise to members of the family, people and the Afghan government,” said Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Communication. “We go to great lengths in our operations to reduce civilian casualties to an absolute minimum. We understand any civilian loss of life is detrimental to our cause and to our efforts to secure the population”.
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