Samstag, 10. März 2007

Kabul air strike kills nine members of same family

by Declan Walsh in Islamabad, The Guardian Weekly, March 9-15, 2007. Vol 176, Nr. 12, S.1

Is this the way how to win over hearts and minds?

Afghan confidence in western military forces was further frayed on Monday when a US air strike on a house near Kabul killed nine people spanning four generations of the same family.

Warplanes dropped two 2,000 lb bombs on the house in Kapisa province, just north of Kabul, hours after an attack on a nearby US base. The apparent mistake came a day after American Special Forces opened fire on civilians on a busy road in eastern Afghanistan, killing up to 10 and wounding many more.

The mounting death toll is causing an uproar in a country that has suffered many civilian casualties since US-led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001. Last December President Hamid Karzai wept as he pleaded with western troops to avoid unnecessary deaths.

Reporters at the scene of the Kapisa bombing said the bombs had pulverised the main house in a compound of five buildings. Gulam Nabi, a relative of the victims, said four children aged between six months and five years had been killed.

The US military said it had fired on the house because two men who had just fired a rocket on the US-run Nato base were seen running into the compound. "These men knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces," said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Accetta.

News of the bombing came as tensions were still high over last Sunday's incident in eastern Nangarhar province, when a convoy of Marine Special Forces made a frenzied escape from the scene of a suicide bomb attack.

Witnesses said the Americans indiscriminately opened fire on passersby and vehicles halted on the side of the road. The US military said its troops had fired in self-defence after coming under fire from several directions in a pre-planned ambush.

Several witnesses and provincial officials disputed that explanation, insisting that there had been no incoming fire.

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