Report: US May Have Killed BBC Journalist for 'Looking Afghan'
August 28, 2011
The Guardian & War News Today
An investigation has found Taliban attackers may not have been to blame for death of 25-year-old BBC Reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak who was killed in July. Khpulwak's wounds now suggest that he was shot by US forces. "This case raises questions as to whether ... 'looking Afghan' can be enough for international forces to believe there is hostile intent and an imminent threat." Also: A list of just one day's worth of incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BBC Journalist Killed during Taliban Attack 'May Have Been Shot by US Forces'
Josh Halliday / The Guardian
LONDON (August 26, 2011) -- A BBC journalist who died during a Taliban suicide attack may have been shot dead by US special forces, an independent investigation has found.
Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was one of more than 20 people killed in attacks on a TV station in Uruzgan province, in the south of Afghanistan, on 28 July.
The Taliban was initially blamed for the 25-year-old's death, but an investigation by the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts' Network (AAN) said Khpulwak may have been killed by US weaponry once the Taliban attackers were already dead.
"It seems -- in what would be the worst luck of all -- that Omed may have survived the suicide bombs only to be shot dead by US special forces when they entered the ruined RTA building," the ANN investigation, published on Wednesday, said. "Evidence for this centers on the nature of his wounds, the timing of his death, ballistics and (hearsay) comments from police."
The investigation, by the AAN senior analyst Kate Clark, said it was clear that Khpulwak had died from gunshot wounds, but that "who pulled the trigger is less clear."
It said: "From the timing of Omed's death, it seems likely that both the Taliban attackers, who were initially blamed for his death, were already themselves dead, but that still leaves the counter-attacking force, as made up of Afghan and international, probably US, forces.
"The ballistics evidence points to Omed having been killed by a weapon used by the US military, although the possibility that such a weapon was used by Afghan security forces or even [the] Taliban has to be borne in mind."
The investigation concluded that the "vast majority" of people killed in the attack "died at the hands of the Taliban," but added that "one civilian may have been killed by international forces." The report said: "This case raises questions as to whether, in an admittedly dangerous and difficult situation, 'looking Afghan' can be enough for international forces to believe there is hostile intent and an imminent threat."
The BBC said it had made an official request for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to carry out an urgent investigation into the facts surrounding Khpulwak's death.
A spokesman for the BBC said: "Following the death of BBC stringer Ahmed Omed Khpulwak in southern Afghanistan's Uruzgan province last month, various conflicting reports have emerged regarding the facts surrounding his death.
"The BBC officially requested that [the coalition] inquires into the circumstances of his death and reports the findings to the BBC and to his family as urgently as possible."
Khpulwak joined the BBC in May 2008 as a stringer, and also worked for the Telegraph and the Pajhwok Afghan news agency.
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War News for Saturday, August 27, 2011
War News Today
BBC journalist killed during Taliban attack 'may have been shot by US forces'
[See story above.]
Reported Security Incidents
#1: A sticky bomb attached to the car of a police officer killed him and wounded two passers-by when it went off on Friday in Baghdad's central Karrada district, an Interior Ministry source said.
#2: A roadside bomb went off near a liquor store, wounding two civilians in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
#3: Three civilians were wounded when three mortar rounds landed in northern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
#1: Gunmen in a car shot dead a civilian late on Friday in Jbela, 65 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, a local police source said.
#1: update The head of the security commission in Basra said today that the rockets launched yesterday were not directed against the Kuwaiti Mobarak Terminal, but Pokka prison, charging that it is an attempt to destroy the Iraqi economy. Ali al-Maliki told Aswat al-Iraq that "the rockets were launched against Pokka prison, 2 km west of Um Qasr port, 60 km west of Basra city, which is the center of the Iraqi naval forces and foreign companies. The rockets were newly designed rockets with a range of one kilometer.
#1: A roadside bomb went off near a mosque and wounded three civilians in Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
#1: Police found the body of an unidentified man in his forties just north of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, a source in Kirkuk police operations room said late on Friday. The source said the man had been handcuffed and blindfolded and his body was riddled with bullets.
#1: An armed man has been killed while trying to plant an explosive charge in Mosul, the center of northern Iraq’s Ninewa Province on Friday, a Ninewa security source reported. “An armed man has been killed on Friday in an explosive charge he tried to plant on the main highway connecting Mosul with Hammam al-Ajil township, 20 km from the city,” the security source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Afghanistan: "The Forgotten War"
#1: Hundreds of militants crossed the Afghan border Saturday and attacked three security checkpoints in northwestern Pakistan, killing 12 people including 10 paramilitary soldiers and two policemen, officials said. The militants seized control of a local village after attacking the security checkpoints in Chitral district, said local police official Nizam Khan.
Pakistani forces responded to the raid and killed nine insurgents, he said. But fighting was still ongoing Saturday afternoon, and Pakistani troops requested helicopter gunships to drive the militants back across the border, said Maj. Ghulam Rasool, a member of the paramilitary forces.
Chitral is located across the border from the Afghan districts of Nuristan and Kunar, both of which house significant numbers of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters. The US largely pulled out of the area about a year ago but has recently added additional troops.
Update -- At least 40 soldiers of Chitral Scouts were killed and many others wounded when militants from Afghanistan attacked border checkpoints in northern Chitral district Saturday, Geo News reported.
#2: Also Saturday, gunmen kidnapped and killed a retired army colonel in northwestern Pakistan, and a police officer died trying to rescue him, said police official Umer Hayat. The gunmen seized Col. Shakeel Ahmad as he was on his way home from morning prayers in the garrison city of Kohat, said Hayat. Police intercepted the gunmen's car at a checkpoint and engaged them in a firefight in which one police officer was killed and two others wounded. The gunmen escaped and later shot dead Ahmad and abandoned his body alongside a road.
#3: At least four people have been killed in a suicide car bombing in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province. Officials say at least another 21 people were wounded. A deputy police chief for Helmand, Kamal-u-Din Sherzai, said the bomber detonated the vehicle at the New Kabul Bank in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, as soldiers and police officers were collecting their salaries.
#4: Two blasts in southern city of Kandahar wounded at least 20 civilians, including women and children, the provincial governor's spokesman, Zalmay Ayoubi, said. It was not immediately clear whether they were suicide or car bomb explosions, Ayoubi said.