UPI & Military.com – 2011-10-26 23:58:16
(October 21, 2011) — Villagers in Afghanistan say they were forced to walk ahead of Afghan and US Soldiers along roads in areas believed to be mined by the Taliban. National Public Radio reports villagers said the Afghan and US troops pulled them from their homes one evening in early September and forced them to walk in front of the troops for more than a mile in the Panjwai district, southwest of Kandahar city.
No one was injured, but if the incident happened, it would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of civilians, NPR said.
The Afghan general in charge of Afghan troops in the Panjwai district and Panjwai’s district governor denied the villagers’ accounts, while a spokesman for NATO’s joint command said the incident was under investigation.
The Panjwai district had been a Taliban stronghold until the US troop surge in 2010 started to displace insurgents, NPR said. The Taliban now use roadside bombs and suicide bombers to fight there, said Faizal Mahmud, the deputy head of Panjwai’s council of elders.
He said scores of villagers at a district meeting hall in Panjwai complained last month they had been taken from their homes and forced to walk along roadway in an area believed to be mined by the Taliban. NPR said local residents corroborated Mahmud’s account.
Ahmad, a 22-year-old from Zangabat, said Soldiers forced him to walk along what he believed a mined road. “[Soldiers] kept telling us to show the mines,” Ahmad told NPR. “We said we didn’t know where the Taliban planted mines. Then they told us to move forward to the next village [and] on the way if anything happens, you are responsible for the consequences. We kept praying, ‘Oh, God, save us.’ ”
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