AntiWar.com & The New York Times & Reuters & Deutsche Presse-Agentur – 2012-02-11 22:53:05
NATO Air Strike Kills Eight Children in Afghanistan
Jason Ditz /AntiWar.com
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (February 9, 2012) — At least eight Afghan children were killed today in Kapisa Province as the result of a NATO air strike against the Nejrab District. The attack was condemned by the Karzai government.
NATO would only “confirm there has been a situation,” while promising to send a “joint NATO assessment team” to find out exactly what happened and how. So far the nationality of the warplane has not been identified. The details of the attack are not entirely clear. Kapisa Governor Mehrabuddin Safi said the strike hit the Giawa village, and other officials said there may have been a night raid in the area shortly before the strike.
Karzai has deployed his own team to the district to investigate the killings, promising a “all-out probe” in a statement released earlier today. A number of MPs are part of the delegation being sent, and it is just one more in a long line of embarrassing incidents straining Afghan-NATO ties.
Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say
Alizza J. Rubin and Jawad Sukhanyar / The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan (February 10, 2012) — Afghan government officials who traveled to the snowbound village where seven children and a young adult reportedly were killed in a NATO airstrike this week said that the bombing was based on incorrect information.
The officials said that after talking to local residents and seeing the area, they concluded that an informer had misled the French troops who control the area.
The airstrike took place on Wednesday in the village of Geyaba in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa. Seven boys under 14 and an 18-year-old were killed in the attack, according to Abdul Mubin Safi, the administrative director of Kapisa Province. They were herding sheep less than half a mile from their homes when the bombing happened.
NATO representatives and Afghan officials traveled to the area by helicopter to investigate and returned Friday, said Maj. Jason Waggoner, a NATO spokesman. He said there was no word yet from NATO officials on the findings of the joint Afghan-NATO team.
One member of the team, Mohammad Hussain Khan Sanjani, the chairman of the provincial council who was reached by telephone in Kapisa, said that after talking with people in the village, it seemed that misinformation had been passed to NATO forces.
“These people are involved in animal husbandry, they own sheep and goats, and their children went out to feed the animals behind their village under some oak trees,” Mr. Sanjani said. “The French troops had a secret report from one of their agents who told them that in that area there were armed men preparing to attack the government and the French soldiers in Kapisa,” he said. “We talked to locals and found that the intelligence was wrong and they targeted civilians.”
The French soldiers, who are largely responsible for Kapisa Province, have faced stiff resistance from the insurgents there and in the Sarobi district of neighboring Kabul Province. Eighty-two French soldiers have been killed in combat since 2001, mostly in those two areas.
Franceâ€™s military high command did not respond to requests for comment on the airstrike in Kapisa.
The province is divided ethnically, with some areas heavily Tajik and others Pashtun. The Pashtun areas have had a strong insurgent presence that includes both Taliban fighters and fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an insurgent leader. The Najrab district, where the airstrike occurred, is mixed with Tajiks, Pashtuns and Pashai, and while local officials said it was not held by insurgents, their presence could not be ruled out since Najrab is adjacent to less stable districts.
“The area is not influenced by the Taliban, but there was some sort of illegal weapon smuggling,” said Abdul Saboor Wafa, the Kapisa governorâ€™s chief of staff.
Civilian casualties have caused serious tensions between the United States-led military coalition and the Afghan government. Civilian deaths caused by NATO and Afghan forces dropped last year, although the number of civilians killed by airstrikes that were intended to hit insurgents rose, to 187, the United Nations has reported.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the loss of life in Kapisa and blamed a NATO airstrike in a statement on Thursday.
Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris.
Afghanistan says children killed in NATO airstrike
Rob Taylor / Reuters
KABUL (February 9, 2012) — Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai accused NATO on Thursday of killing a number of children in an airstrike, a case which could stoke tensions between the government and its western backers over a mounting civilian death toll. The NATO-led coalition in the country did not immediately confirm the deaths, but said it was investigating an incident in the Najrab district of eastern Kapisa province.
Civilian deaths have been one of the biggest sources of friction in relations between the Afghan government and NATO ahead of a withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.
“President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned an airstrike by foreign troops which resulted in the killing of a number of children,” a statement from his office said. Karzai had sent an advisor, Mohammad Zahir Safi, to the area to investigate the incident, the statement added.
Mehrabuddin Safi, the governor of Kapisa, said a coalition air strike late on Wednesday killed eight children in Giawa village. Other Afghan officials had earlier said the strike followed a night raid on suspected insurgents.
“The matter is currently being assessed by a joint assessment team to determine the facts,” a spokesman for the 130,000-strong International Security Assistance Force in the country said.
A United Nations report last week said the number of civilians killed and injured in the Afghan war had risen for the fifth year in a row, lifting from 2,790 in 2010 to 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011. Most deaths were caused by insurgents, the report said, but civilian deaths due to NATO air strikes also rose nine percent to 187, and were the coalition’s biggest civilian killer.
Karzai Condemns NATO Airstrike that Killed Eight Afghan Children
KABUL (February 9, 2012) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai ‘strongly condemned’ a NATO airstrike that killed at least eight children in eastern Afghanistan, a palace statement said Thursday. An investigation was also launched into the incident, which took place in Geyawa village in the Nejrab district of Kapisa province on Wednesday, the statement said.
President Karzai has assigned a delegation led by advisor Haji Mohammad Zaher Safi and a number of lawmakers and representatives from various Afghan ministries to launch ‘an all-out probe into the NATO bombing,’ the statement said. ‘President Karzai contacted the provincial governor and inquired more on the incident and telephoned the mourning families and expressed his deepest sympathies and condolences,’ the statement said.
Lieutenant Commander James Williams, a spokesman with the NATO-led international forces confirmed the incident saying a joint NATO assessment team was investigating the circumstances. Civilian casualties due to NATO airstrikes have been a serious issue of contention between the Afghan president and his western military allies.
Meanwhile, Karzai extended the deadline for handover of the US-run Bagram prison to Afghan control by a month. Last month, Karzai said that the United States should hand over control of the prison to Afghan authorities within a month, after a scathing report by an Afghan commission cited ‘many cases of violations of (the) Afghan Constitution and other applicable laws of the country, the relevant international conventions and human rights.’ Close to 600 inmates have been either released or transferred to Afghan authorities, a palace statement said. ‘However, the handover of the control of the prison is yet to take place,’ it said.
Mark Thornburg, a US embassy spokesman, said the United States was willing to work with the Afghan government on the transition of authority. But he did not confirm if control would be handed over in another month.
Hundreds of Taliban insurgents are incarcerated in Bagram prison. Human rights organizations and some former detainees have said that some of the prisoners are ill-treated and some kept in solitary confinement. Observers say Karzai wants control over the prison in order to gain a better negotiating position with the Taliban.
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