2 children killed by Canadian troops in Afghanistan
July 28, 2008 at 10:31 AM EDT
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canadian troops have killed a two-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister by opening fire on a car they feared was about to attack their convoy in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces announced Monday.
Facing a split-second decision about what to do when a car failed to heed repeated warnings to pull over, a gunner in a light armoured vehicle pulled the trigger on a 25-millimetre cannon.
Its giant round tore through the little girl’s skull and left a gaping wound in her younger brother’s chest, witnesses said.
The children’s mother later frantically paced the hallways at the local hospital, shrieking and cursing foreign soldiers between sobs.
Ruzi Mohammed, 31, was injured when a Canadian military vehicle shot at his rented car on July 27, 2008. The same shot killed Mr. Mohammed’s son and daughter.
One police officer at the Kandahar city hospital said he saw the mother scream: “My innocent children have been killed by foreigners — for no reason!”
The father, believed to have been driving the vehicle, was being treated for lacerations but left the hospital without permission to attend his children’s funeral.
Another hospital visitor said that if he were the children’s father, he would personally strap on a suicide vest and exact vengeance on Canadian troops.
Shopkeeper Din Mohammad said foreign soldiers had better stop accidentally killing civilians or they will suffer the same bitter fate as the defeated Soviets.
“They must stop this,” said Mr. Mohammed, who was visiting his son at Mirwais hospital when he saw the children’s lifeless bodies carried in.
“Otherwise the day will come when everybody will stand up against the foreigners in a holy war — a jihad.”
“It’s happened once before (with the Soviets). If things continue like this, history will repeat itself.”
An investigation into Sunday’s incident will be conducted by Afghan police and coalition forces.
A Canadian statement said the round was discharged when the car had come within 10 metres of the convoy.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce that two Afghan children … were killed in this incident,” said the statement. …
A third occupant of the vehicle was wounded, and the fourth and fifth occupants were not injured.
Afghan and United Nations officials have pleaded with international troops to avoid causing civilian casualties, which threaten to undermine support for the government and foreign forces.
The organization Human Rights Watch says at least 300 Afghan civilians were mistakenly killed by the coalition last year, and thousands are believed to have died since 2001.
Taxi drivers in Kandahar city can be seen waving down their colleagues and shouting at them to avoid certain streets where foreign troops have been spotted.
Cars generally screech to a halt and pull off the road to let military convoys pass.
Earlier this month, U.S. forces wiped out an entire wedding party in eastern Afghanistan, killing 47 civilians in an aerial bombing, the Afghan government has said.
Canada has no aircraft in Afghanistan capable of such attacks from the sky. But Canada has been involved in other civilian killings before.
In one incident, a 90-year-old man who was a respected political scientist and mentor to President Hamid Karzai was shot when he approached troops on a motorbike.
In another, a young man riding on a motorbike was shot through the chest and the bullet struck the head and killed his little brother riding behind him.
Military charges against Canadian Forces members have risen dramatically in the years since Canada sent troops to Afghanistan: here.