US Accused of Killing Woman, Seven Children in Afghanistan Airstrike

While US, Karzai's versions of incident conflict, both indicate civilians were again collateral damage

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has accused the U.S. of killing one woman and seven children in an airstrike early Wednesday.

"Afghanistan for years demanded a complete halt in operations in villages but the Americans, contrary to mutual agreement ... once again resorted to bombing a residential area and killing civilians," Reutersreports Karzai as saying in a statement.

The Washington Postreports that

According to Karzai and the governor of Parwan province, the incident occurred about 1 a.m. when U.S. Special Forces attempted to enter a home. A gun battle ensued, resulting in a coalition airstrike that killed the children and a female relative in the house, they said.

The U.S./NATO-led Afghan Security Assistance Force (ISAF) released a statement saying that two civilians and "at least 10 insurgents" were killed "during a deliberately-planned, Afghan-led clearing operation to disrupt insurgent activity in Ghorband district, Parwan province."

According to ISAF's statement, the incident took place in

a high threat area with Taliban activity, some linked to the Haqqani network. The insurgents in this area enjoy freedom of movement allowing them to harass and threaten the local population as well as stage and facilitate attacks.[...]

While moving through Ghorband district, ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] commandos and their coalition advisers came under heavy fire from insurgents, resulting in the death of one ISAF service member. The force required defensive air support to suppress the enemy fire from two compounds.

As Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola asks: "If the Taliban targets were among a local population of civilians--and were known to "harass" them as ISAF indicated in the press release, what made any commanding officer think civilians would not be killed if they ordered an air strike on a compound?"

"ISAF regrets any civilian casualties and will continue working with our Afghan partners to determine all the facts surrounding this incident," ISAF's statement added.

The death of the civilians comes a week after U.S. Marines were accused of killing a four-year-old Afghan boy.

The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, now in its 13th year, could extend another decade.

The U.S. has pressed Afghanistan to sign a bilateral security agreement which would allow extended U.S. military presence there, and even if the number of troops is reduced, critics charge it would mean continued war for the people of Afghanistan.

"Occupation is not defined by how many occupiers are policing someplace," Kimber Heinz of the War Resisters League previously told Common Dreams. "If you reduce the amount of occupation forces but keep them there forever, then the occupation continues and the war on people's everyday lives is not actually over -- no matter what the U.S. government or mainstream media tells us."


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