US Drones Kill 34 at Afghan Funeral While US-backed Militias Run Amok
June 6, 2015
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Kristoff Saunders / News of Fulton County
US drones attacked a funeral in Afghanistan's Khost Province, leaving at least 34 mourners dead. The funeral was reportedly for a Taliban fighter, and the Afghan government insisted that -- by extension -- all the mourners must've been Taliban, too. Meanwhile, US-subsidized local militias in Afghanistan, dubbed the Afghan Local Police, often act as vigilantes in the best of times, and as guns for hire to the highest bidder. The ALP also engage in wide-spread bribe-taking and violence against locals.
US Drones Attack Afghanistan Funeral, Killing 34 Mourners
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 5, 2015) -- On Friday, US drones attacked a funeral in Afghanistan's Khost Province, tearing through a crowd of mourners and leaving at least 34 of them dead. The funeral was reportedly for a Taliban fighter, and the Afghan government insisted that by extension, all the mourners must've been Taliban too.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed the strike, but insisted a number of the victims were innocent civilians from the nomadic tribe the slain fighter was a member of . Afghan MPs from the region similarly claimed a number of civilians were slain.
Oddly, while everyone else was reporting the attack was on a funeral inside a cemetery, Khost provincial police claimed the US strike was against Taliban forces who were "running away" from the police along the Pakistan border.
Civilian tolls in US strikes have posed a huge problem for Afghan governments in the past, and former President Hamid Karzai's feckless criticism both angered locals (since it never seemed to stop future attacks) and alienated him from the US. So far, President Ghani seems to be trying to avoid comment on such incidents.
Afghanistan: US Drone Strike on Funeral Kills 34
Kristoff Saunders / News of Fulton County
KABUL, Afghanistan (June 5, 2015) -- At least 34 Taliban insurgents have been killed in Afghanistan's southeastern Khost province in a US drone attacked a funeral ceremony held for a slain Taliban commander Friday, Afghan authorities said.
According to Afghan officials, the incident happened at 1.30 p.m. (0900GMT) Friday in the Alishir district in Khost province near the border with Pakistan.
"The incident has taken place few kilometers from the border line with Pakistan. The majority of the insurgents killed in the airstrike had crossed the border to attend the funeral ceremony," a border police officer who declined to be named told Anadolu Agency. "All the bodies were collected by security forces and all of them were Taliban militants. There are no civilian casualties." He said the ceremony was held for a Taliban commander who was killed by Afghan security forces the previous day.
The Taliban group's self-proclaimed spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the incident but said all the victims were civilians who had attended the funeral. "At least 20 civilians were killed when Americans conducted an air raid on a funeral ceremony held by nomads," Mujahid said.
Haidar Naeemzoi, representative of nomads in the lower house of the national assembly, confirms the drone attack, and insists that all the victims were civilians. "A US drone attacked people who were returning from the cemetery. The plane targeted two vehicles killing at least 15 people on the spot," Naeemzoi said.
Civilian casualties have been a frictional issue in relation between the Afghan government and US-led coalition forces based in Afghanistan after the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001.
Mohammad Yaqub Mandozai, provincial police security director, told Anadolu Agency that the US air raid took place when Taliban were running away after fighting between frontier police forces and the insurgents who had crossed the border. "I can confirm 34 militants were killed in the incident," Mandozai said.
In a recent US drone strike against Taliban militants, at least seven insurgents were killed Thursday in the eastern province of Nangarhar. US-led coalition forces have increased drone strikes against insurgents as Taliban militants have intensified their attacks as part of their spring offensive, which kicked off in April.
In 2015, Afghanistan has seen unprecedented violence from Taliban insurgents. The Afghan Ministry of Defense terms it as Taliban's attempt to gain greater leverage in peace talks with the Afghan government expected to resume this summer.
Afghan Pro-Government Militias Running Amok
Groups Fuel Local Support for Taliban Resistance
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 5, 2015) -- US-subsidized local militias in Afghanistan, dubbed the Afghan Local Police (ALP) even though they by and large have no real connections or oversight from the Afghan or local governments, have been repeatedly touted by NATO and by Afghan leaders as indispensable to the war against the Taliban.
The ALP were praised for being halfway effective fighters, and extremely inexpensive to prop up, but losses in Kunduz are showing what an ill-conceived strategy that has turned out to be, with the forces fueling corruption and propping up local support for the Taliban.
The International Crisis Group dubbed them "cheap but dangerous," noting that they often act as vigilantes in the best of times, and as guns for hire to the highest bidder in the areas they are expected to "police." The US special forces monitoring them reported wide-spread bribe-taking and violence against locals.
They’re at least nominally loyal to the US and to provincial-level officials, who are mostly defending the program. The locals they’re abusing and extorting, however, are increasingly supportive of Taliban takeovers of their district if for no other reason than to get rid of the ALP. 14 years into the US occupation, the Taliban is getting more popular in some areas.
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