Seven civilians killed in Afghan police mistake

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Afghan Border Police in Spin Boldak last year.
Image: Aramis X. Ramirez.

Afghan border police shot dead seven civilians yesterday, near the border with Pakistan after mistaking them for Taliban rebels, according to police officials. The seven men were collecting wood after dark in the southern Afghanistan town of Spin Boldak, a common route for Taliban rebels.

The police thought they were going to be ambushed, so opened fire from 400 yards away, not realising that they were unarmed until the bodies were recovered, according to the local commander of the police, Abdul Raziq. He said six officers had been detained for questioning and an investigation opened, and that the police had checked with local residents that the bodies were not that of rebels.

This takes place amid widespread anger about civilian deaths in general, with over two thousand killed last year in fighting. Although United Nations figures show that the majority fell victim to Taliban attack, many Afghans blame the foreign troops, saying that if they were not in the country, the attacks would not take place. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has warned that civilian killings undermine the military effort as well as his administration.

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