14 women and children were killed by ISAF bombs in Afghanistan on Saturday. 6 children were among the wounded.
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters)– An air strike called in by NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan killed 12 children and two women, Afghan officials said on Sunday, one of the worst civilian death tolls by foreign forces in months.
Fourteen women and children have been killed after Nato warplanes bombed their homes in south-west Afghanistan.Six others were wounded in the attack, according to local reports, after the airstrike in Nawzad district, in the country's volatile Helmand province.Two women, five girls and seven boys were among the dead, said Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial government.
The Daily Mail article contains photos from the scene.
Separately the governor of Nuristan on Sunday told AFP that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes against insurgents in his troubled northeastern province.
Major James said those allegations were also being investigated.
"ISAF has sent a fact-finding team to investigate the allegations about civilian and police casualties in Nuristan," he said.
"Our initial reporting does not indicate civilian casualties in that air strike," he added.
ISAF has sent an assessment team to Nawzad.
An ISAF spokesman in Kabul said: "We are aware of the reports that alleged civilians were killed yesterday in Helmand." He said an assessment team had been sent to the area and would issue its findings shortly.
I'm looking forward to their conclusion. I'm expecting that this will be described as an unfortunate incident, attributable to the fact that the cowardly enemy hides among civilians. Or maybe it will just be denied as "no evidence of," etc, etc.
Or will we see the Pentagon speak with the refreshing candor that we saw back in 2001, when the war was still fresh and exciting, and the killing of almost an entire village population could simply be explained by the fact that the US wanted them dead?
The below articles from CNN and the Toronto Globe & Mail from November 2001 bear revisiting, as they provide some essential clues to the whole rationale behind the war in Afghanistan, and the GWOT in general.
Pentagon: Afghan village a "legitimate target"
November 01, 2001
U.S. military officials say an Afghan village hit by American aircraft more than a week ago was a "Taliban encampment" providing support to the al Qaeda terrorist network and was therefore a "fully legitimate target".
"We hit what we wanted to hit," a Pentagon official speaking on the condition of anonymity told CNN.
The official said the village of Chowkar-Karez, approximately 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, had been "positively identified as a Taliban encampment including al Qaeda collaborators."
"The people there are dead because we wanted them dead," the official said.
The village was attacked about 2330 local time on October 22 with torrents of withering fire from an AC-130 aerial gunship, known in the military as "Spooky."
Earlier the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch released a statement saying it had reports detailing "25 civilians killed in the village".
However, Pentagon officials take issue with the term "civilians" in the context of the military action in Afghanistan saying members of the Taliban and al Qaeda often do not wear uniforms.
Chowkar-Karez, they say, provided support and refuge to terrorists.
Taliban authorities have said that between 90 and 100 civilians were killed in the U.S. attack.
CNN's Nic Robertson has not been able to verify the Talban's statements on casualties but was allowed to visit the ruins of the village which had been virtually leveled by the attack.
As with all assignments in Afghanistan he was accompanied by a Taliban guide and other officials, although he says his reports are not usually censored.
A mullah from the village told the reporters that the bombing came soon after a convoy of people afraid of the continued bombing raids over Kandahar arrived in the town seeking sanctuary.
The Taliban officials accompanying Robertson and other reporters said the village had no military function, and counted only civilians among its residents.
Survivors said the bombing was carried out not only by jets, but also by helicopters. All of them denied the Pentagon's assertion that the village was a base for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.Robertson said the village's 15 houses had been destroyed, and the rubble contained no articles of obvious military value.
Instead, he said, boxes of soap, children's shoes, women's clothing and other domestic articles lay among the destruction. [...]
Six survivors of Chowkar-Karez interviewed by Human Rights Watch were all adamant that there was nothing in their remote village that ought to have attracted the interest of the U.S. military. They described how the bombing began shortly before midnight on Oct. 22 and lasted for an hour
Witnesses talked to by the Western reporters claimed there were no Taliban troops in the village and that U.S. planes opened fire on people as they attempted to flee the bombs.
The Pentagon has confirmed that Chowkar-Karez was attacked by AC-130 Spectre gunships, which fly low and are armed with cannons. But it has made no further statements, even though the attack was raised in three different press briefings.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- asked again this week about the incident after the journalists visited the site -- professed ignorance. "I cannot deal with that particular village," he replied.
Later, unidentified Pentagon officials told CNN that Chowkar-Karez was "a fully legitimate target" because it was a nest of Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers. "The people there are dead because we wanted them dead," an official said.
Remember, they hate us for our freedoms.