Afghan government claims U.S. air strike killed dozens of civilians

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The location of the air strike on a map of Afghanistan
Image: Golbez and Morwen.

In contrast with previous statements by the United States, Afghanistan officials investigating a Sunday air strike on Nangarhar province now claim that the 47 killed by the air strike were civilians rather than militants as the US stated. The US is facing similar charges over strikes two days earlier in another border area of Afghanistan.

Marwais Yasini, deputy speaker in the country's lower houses of parliament, criticized the fact that the operation was not planned in co-operation with Afghan forces, adding that, "all operations should be conducted in full co-operation with our [Afghan] security forces in the future".

Yasini continued by saying that "these operations widen the gap between the people and the government," and calling for compensation for the victims, who, according to local residents, were attending a wedding party at the time of the attack. Burhanullah Shinwari, head of the Afghan investigation team has stated that the victims "were all civilians and had no links with the Taliban or al-Qaida."

Lieutenant Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force, told Agence France-Presse that the military regrets any loss of civilian life and was investigating the incident.

The release of this information regarding Sunday's air strike comes after the release of a United Nations report regarding the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan. It said that seven hundred civilians have been killed this year, with 2/3rds of them by militants and another 1/3rd as a result of military operations.