Afghans Incensed by Air Attack on Village
mtippett | August 30, 2008 at 10:33 pmby
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This is starting to sound like the line about having to destroy the town to save the town...
Accusations and denials are swirling in Kabul as the Afghan government and the international military forces try to unravel the facts surrounding an August 21 air strike in the village of Azizabad, in the western province of Herat.
On one side is the Afghan government, which insists that over 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in the attack, in Herat’s Shindand district. President Hamed Karzai has strongly condemned the bombing, and appointed a commission that has confirmed the accounts of local residents. The Afghan cabinet has issued a call to renegotiate the terms on which foreign forces operate in the country.
On the other side are the Americans, who insist that they were targeting a Taleban commander. According to a press release by the American-led Coalition forces, 30 people died, 25 of them Taleban insurgents. The remaining five were family members of insurgents, said the statement.
Amid the conflicting statements, anger is growing among Afghans.
“Americans think that all Afghans are terrorists, and they send rockets and missiles against us,” said Gulbuddin, a resident of Azizabad. “I myself buried more than 50 women and children. Are all of them terrorists?”
According to the New York Times, the bomb struck a gathering of local people who had gathered to honour the memory of a man who died one year earlier.
This was borne out by Fatima, 25, who lost eight members of her family, including her husband and children, in the attack. She spoke to IWPR from her hospital bed in Herat, where she wept and cursed those who carried out the air strike.
“We were holding a memorial service in our home,” she said, tears running down her face. “Suddenly the infidels attacked and I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was in hospital, and they told me that all of my family were dead and already buried. Was my two-year-old child a terrorist? Then am I not also a terrorist? Why did they let me live?”
Lieutenant Nathan Perry, spokesperson for the American-led coalition , told IWPR that the air strike was aimed at Taleban insurgents, specifically a commander called Mullah Siddiq. Thirty people died, he said – 25 terrorists and five members of Mullah Siddiq’s family.
The Afghan government has confirmed the accounts of residents, and has issued heated condemnations of the attack.