Afghan Carnage Continues: US Kills Five-Year-Old 'Enemy'; NATO, US Troops Die in Air Crashes
January 10, 2014
The Associated Press & NBC Nightly News
A four-year-old Afghan child has been shot dead by US troops after being mistaken for enemy. The Afghan government repeated its call for "an absolute end to Isaf/NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings where innocent children or civilians are the victims." Meanwhile, NBC reports a Blackhawk helicopter crash that killed six US soldiers in last month was the result of an enemy explosion, not gunfire or mechanical failure as originally reported.
Afghan Boy Killed by US Forces as NATO Staff Die in Aircraft Accident
The Associated Press
KABUL (January 10, 2014) -- Two NATO servicemen and one civilian employee have been killed in an aircraft accident in Afghanistan, while a four-year-old Afghan boy has been shot dead by US forces.
Afghan officials said on Friday that the boy had been accidently shot and killed in the latest violent incident to strain ties between the uneasy allies.
The Afghan-US relationship has been damaged by President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security deal that would allow for a US military presence after the withdrawal of most foreign troops this year.
The US has said its troops cannot remain without a deal in place. Their complete departure would leave Afghan security forces on their own to fight the Taliban.
Karzai is demanding that the US end all unilateral military operations on Afghan territory -- among other things -- before the pact is signed, because they cause avoidable civilian deaths.
"We have called ... for an absolute end to Isaf/NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings where innocent children or civilians are the victims," the president's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said when commenting on the death of the boy.
The International Security Assistance force (Isaf) is Afghanistan's NATO-led force. It is dominated by US troops.
A spokesman for the governor of the southern province of Helmand told Reuters that US marines based in the province mistakenly shot the boy on Wednesday because visibility was poor.
"As the weather was dusty, the marine forces based there thought he was an enemy and opened fire. As result of mistaken fire, he was killed," the spokesman, Omar Zwak, said by telephone.
A spokesman for the NATO-led force said the matter would be investigated and that all possible measures were taken to avoid civilian casualties.
A separate NATO statement confirmed the "aircraft mishap" in eastern Afghanistan early on Friday but provided no details of the accident, or the names and nationalities of those killed.
Friday's deaths push the number of NATO troops killed in Afghanistan this year to four. One service member was killed in a suicide attack on 4 January, also in eastern Afghanistan, and another on 1 January.
"At this time, there are no indications of enemy involvement in the cause of the aircraft mishap," the force said.
Enemy Explosion Caused Deadly
Afghanistan Helicopter Crash Last Month
Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Elizabeth Chuck / NBC News
(January 9, 2014) -- A Blackhawk helicopter that crashed in southern Afghanistan last month, killing six US soldiers, was brought down by an enemy explosion, not gunfire or mechanical failure, US military officials said Thursday.
The UH-60 helicopter crashed in the Shahjoi district of Afghanistan's Zabul province on Dec. 17. Initial reports indicated it came under heavy enemy gunfire once it was on the ground, but later reports contradicted that, implying there was no enemy contact.
By the time a rescue team was deployed to the scene of the crash, six of the seven crew members had been killed, with one surviving with serious injuries. The soldiers were Americans serving with the NATO International Security Assistance Force.
According to US military officials, two US Army Blackhawk helicopters were flying in tandem when one suddenly dropped from the sky. The cause was under investigation, NATO said at the time.
On Thursday, US military officials told NBC News the helicopter was in a low-hover position when a blast from the ground below caused it to crash. The helicopter was not shot down by enemy fire, and apparently no enemy forces were on the ground in the vicinity either before or after the fatal crash.
At the time of the incident, US military officials in Afghanistan strongly denied that the helicopter was brought down by "enemy fire," but did not divulge the crash was the result of "enemy action."
The incident was the single deadliest for American forces in Afghanistan in more than a year. The investigation into how exactly the blast occurred is ongoing.
News of the enemy explosion comes a day after two sailors were killed and a third went missing after a US Navy helicopter made an emergency water landing off the coast of Virginia, and two days after four American airmen were killed when a US military helicopter carrying live ammunition crashed on the east coast of England.
Aircraft crashes are not uncommon in mountainous Afghanistan. In August 2011, 25 US special operations forces were among 38 killed when the Taliban shot down a transport helicopter.
About 43,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan, and about 80,000 total ISAF troops.
A pending security agreement with the Afghan government could drop the number of Americans to under 10,000 by the end of 2014. That agreement, however, would commit US forces to another 10 years in Afghanistan.
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