More US soldiers, Afghan civilians, die

This video says about itself:

Germany in the dock over Kunduz airstrike

20 March 2013

Relatives of Afghans killed by an airstrike ordered by a German NATO officer in northern Afghanistan have taken Germany’s government to court.

The country has already paid more than 400,000 dollars – or 330,000 euros – in what it calls aid. The families from Kunduz want ten times that amount.

At the courthouse in Bonn, federal government lawyer Mark Zimmer said: “Of course I can understand these people because they suffered a terrible fate. At the same time, it is our task to fend off this claim because Bonn District Court is not the right place for it. There are rights based on international law and there are payments which have already been made, also by the German government.”

Karim Popal, a lawyer for the plaintiffs countered: “The goodwill aid payments of 5,000 dollars were handed out in a men’s assembly, so a lot of orphans and widows received nothing. A lot of strangers lined their pockets. Some of our clients received this aid, others did not.”

Scores of people were killed or maimed in September 2009 when two stolen fuel tankers were hit in the airstrike.

The planes were American, but the order came from a German commander.

Germany’s lower house of parliament said it was ‘one of the most serious incidents involving the German army since World War Two.’

From the Asia Times:

Nov 13, 2009

US air supply drop turns deadly

By Mustafa Saber

HERAT – Contradictory accounts of dead and injured from Afghan and Western forces and eyewitnesses have left a confused picture of an American military supply drop that appears to have gone disastrously wrong.

Up to 25 United States and Afghan military personnel, and perhaps as many as 14 civilians, were reportedly killed or injured in the incident in Bala Murghab district, an insurgent-riddled area in the northwestern corner of Badghis province on the border with Turkmenistan, this month.

A supply drop by the US military on November 4 intended for troops in the field landed in the Murghab River, a fast-moving and treacherous body of water, and the soldiers tried to retrieve it. According to the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, two paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were missing after the airdrop and a search was launched for them.

Local eyewitnesses said that five men went into the water and only one came out alive. They said the bodies of two were retrieved, but two went missing.

“I don’t have confirmation of others involved,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Vician of the ISAF Joint Command media office.

Initially, the Taliban claimed to be holding two bodies, but later reports quoted the insurgents’ spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, as denying that this was the case.

According to locals, things went badly wrong in the course of the search for the bodies.

Residents of Takht-e-Bazaar in Bala Murghab district say a helicopter containing US commandos along with Afghan soldiers landed in their area on November 6. According to eyewitnesses, the commandos began shooting indiscriminately as soon as they left the aircraft.

“They did not stop to see who is civilian, who is Talib, who is armed, who is a government employee,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, a tribal elder in Takht-e-Bazaar. “They were so angry, so wild that they even shot at Afghan military forces.”

The civilians caught in the crossfire included an old man and his son, said Abdul Satar, 42, a shopkeeper who said the two men were his uncle and cousin.

“My uncle was a sick man, he could hardly move,” said Abdul Satar, shaking with anger. “Those tyrant Americans shot him and his son. I am not going to forget this crime as long as I live. They were just shopkeepers, they were not Taliban. They had no connections with any group.”

According to General Jalandarshah Behnam, commander of the 207th Zafar Corps in western Afghanistan, the search operation was conducted jointly by US special forces and one of his commando battalions, who subsequently fell victim to friendly fire.

“A number of Afghan and foreign troops were looking for the missing soldiers that were drowned some days ago in the Murghab River,” he said. “They mistakenly came under air attack by US forces.”

According to General Behnam, seven US soldiers died in the air strike, along with two Afghan National Army soldiers and three Afghan National Police. An Afghan translator was also killed, he added. In addition, 12 ANA soldiers and one policeman were injured, and the condition of several of them was critical.

Residents of Takht-e-Bazaar say the air strike also killed up to 14 civilians while destroying eight residential compounds.

“I can tell you the exact neighborhoods where the bombs landed,” said Haji Ismail. “Post-e-Dahana, Khasa, Rood-e-Poyin and Taraaz. At least 10 civilians died, and more may still die of their injuries. I have attended funerals.” …

General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan and the head of ISAF troops, has called for a revamped strategy that will emphasize the protection of civilians.

“The greatest risk we can accept is to lose the support of the people here,” McChrystal told CBS’s 60 Minutes program in September. “If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can’t be successful.”

But even in the few months since this new strategy was articulated, several incidents have provoked Afghan anger against the foreign military. An air strike called in by German forces in Kunduz in September killed up to 70 civilians; residents in Helmand say that nine insurgents targeted by an ISAF rocket on November 4 were, in fact, a family of farmers. …

Much remains unclear about the Bala Murghab incident – the exact numbers of casualties, whether insurgents were involved and what provoked the air strike.

But for the residents who have lost family members and homes, the reality is stark enough.

“Many people have been displaced,” said Abdul Shukur, the mayor of Bala Murghab. “Their homes have been destroyed and they are camping out up in the mountains.”

Mustafa Saber is an IWPR-trained journalist based in Herat.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the media has been enlisted in a cynical campaign to transform tragedies that are the product of the war in Afghanistan into justifications for the war’s escalation: here.

3 thoughts on “More US soldiers, Afghan civilians, die

  1. Pingback: Afghan human rights commission not really independent? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: US army kills Afghan civilians again | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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