Collateral Damage

There's a bit of a difference of opinion between NATO and Afghan authorities over the result of recent airstrikes.

American-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan on Friday, the interior ministry said.

"Seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred today in a coalition forces operation in Herat province," the statement said.

Coalition forces bombarded the Azizabad area of Shindand district in Herat province on Friday afternoon, the ministry said. Nineteen victims were women, seven were men, and the rest were children under 15, it said.

However, the coalition denied killing civilians. It said 30 militants had been killed in an air strike in Shindand district in the early hours of Friday and no further air strikes had been launched. Air strikes took place between 1am-2am after Afghan and coalition soldiers were ambushed by insurgents while on a patrol targeting a Taliban commander in Herat, the US military said in a statement.

...Saeed Sharif, a council member where the strike occurred, said: "Last night at 2am some people were attending a holy Koran recitation in Shindand district when Americans started bombing."

This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. What usually happens next is the NATO carries out an investigation and says it is in the clear while the Afghans stick to their story. Which makes me wonder about the disconnect between that absence of admission for culpability in individual incidents and the overall admission that airstrikes and shootings by coalition troops killed as many Afghans as the Taliban did last year. I'm sure Afghans wonder too - and then NATO wonders why the Taliban is resurgent.


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