NATO kills Afghan civilian bus passengers

This video from the USA is called Special Forces Killing of Civilians Part of a Pattern in Afghanistan War. See also here.

From Associated Press today:

Afghan govt: 4 civilians killed in NATO shooting

updated 12:59 a.m. ET April 12, 2010

KABUL – Afghan officials say four people died and 18 were wounded when international troops opened fire on a civilian bus near the southern city of Kandahar.

Zelmai Ayubi, spokesman for the local governor, says the incident occurred early Monday. The victims include women, children, and men. He says 12 of the wounded were taken to a military hospital.

Ayubi said the provincial government strongly condemned the shooting.

A NATO official said the alliance was aware of the incident but had no immediate comment.

KABUL, Afghanistan — American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near the southern city of Kandahar on Monday morning, killing as many as five civilians and wounding 18, Afghan authorities and survivors said: here.

See also here. And here. And here.

Nato occupation troops have opened fire on a bus packed with Afghan civilians in Kandahar province, killing at least 12 people including women and a child and sparking angry protests: here.

Afghanistan: ‘American Escalation of Force’ on Passenger Bus Kills Civilians, Sparks Protests: here.

At a time when so many of us protest but limit our risks to being online advocates, WikiLeaks staffers are exposing, under covert threat of the U.S. Intelligence community, the reality of civilian deaths in the the Afghanistan War through confidentially obtained “kill” footage. There is nothing like authentic visual images to turn speculation into fact, and U.S. Government lies into fiction: here.

Australia: In a move that is unprecedented internationally, the Rudd Labor government on Friday announced an immediate suspension of all refugee applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan: here.

Australians voted out the Howard Coalition government in 2007. But the Labor government’s decision to suspend processing new refugees arriving by boat from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka means John Howard’s racist refugee policies have been revived: here.

170 Killed in Past week in Afghanistan as Gates Defends Karzai from Drug Charges and Cheney, Palin Laud Afghan President: here.

Kazakhstan to allow U.S. troops flying to Afghanistan over its territory: here.

Britain: An anti-war soldier serving a prison sentence for refusing to return to Afghanistan is receiving “cruel and degrading” treatment at the hands of military prison staff, according to lawyers: here.

WikiLeaks plans to post video showing US massacre of Afghani civilians: here.

Activists behind a website dedicated to revealing secret documents have complained of harassment by police and intelligence services as they prepare to release a video showing an American attack in which 97 civilians were killed in Afghanistan: here.

German special forces killed 83 Afghan civilians: here.

KABUL, 12 April 2010 (IRIN) – The detention of nine members of an Italian medical NGO in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, on charges of “terrorism and assassination” has embarrassed aid workers across the country: here.

It appears as though NATO has taken its revenge on the Italian NGO Emergency, headed by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gino Strada. During the recent showcase attack in Helmand, Operation Moshtarak, the NGO was unsparing in its criticism of the foreign forces: here.

Afghan governor’s rights abuses known in 2007: here.


The government will face a High Court challenge next week over allegations of British complicity in the abuse and torture of detainees in Afghanistan: here.

Germany’s defence minister indicated on Monday that he intends to send more soldiers on “conflict missions” abroad and pledged to deliver up to 200 new armoured vehicles for troops fighting in Afghanistan: here.

Up to 71 civilians have slaughtered in a weekend air raid by Pakistani warplanes near the Afghan border, survivors and a government official have reported: here.

13 thoughts on “NATO kills Afghan civilian bus passengers

  1. ‘Emergency’ to demand release

    Three in Afghan ‘plot’ case ‘probably held illegally’

    12 April, 17:42

    (ANSA) – Rome, April 12 – Italian medical charity Emergency said Monday it will demand the “immediate” release of three of its workers arrested on Saturday in connection with an alleged plot to kill a southern Afghanistan provincial governor.

    “We’re going to ask for the immediate release of our guys,” said the communications chief of the Italian NGO, Maso Notarianni.

    Notarianni said Afghan law requires suspects to be released within 24 hours unless charges are pressed.

    “We think they’re probably being held illegally,” he said.

    “Rather than (their) detention, we should be talking about abduction”.

    He added that the Italian foreign ministry was “moving” on the case.

    Emergency is organising protest rallies in support of the three detainees, including one in Rome’s Piazza Navona on Saturday at 13:00 GMT.

    So far, the three – surgeon Marco Garatti, 40, nurse Matteo Dell’Aira, 30, and logistical technician Matteo Pagani Bonaiuti, 18 – have only been placed under investigation after arms and explosives were found in their field hospital in the capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah.

    Afghan officials say the find was linked to a plot to kill the governor of the war-torn province, Goulab Mangal.

    Emergency says the three were “framed” to get rid of the relief organisation because it is an unwanted witness to the scale of civilian casualties.

    The Emergency spokesman said the idea of shutting down its operations in Afghanistan in protest at the arrests was “for now premature”.

    “We aren’t thinking about it,” Notarianni said.

    Meanwhile Rome prosecutors said they were following the case.

    A probe has not yet started because the alleged involvement of the Emergency men “is not very clear”, judicial sources said.

    But they said a probe will be formally opened “in the next few days” whether the charges prove to have some basis or not.

    The parliamentary secret service commission, COPASIR, will hear Italian intelligence agency AISE on the case Wednesday.

    According to Italian media Monday, Italian intelligence suspects there is something “strange” about the case. Earlier, Helmand province spokesman Daud Ahmadi told ANSA the three had not confessed to being linked to al-Qaeda, as erroneously reported by The Sunday Times.

    Ahmadi said the British newspaper had already “apologised” to him.

    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called the Sunday Times’ report a serious case of “misinformation”.

    But The Times correspondent in Afghanistan, Jerome Starkey, denied the spokesman’s claim, saying Ahmadi had spoken of a confession on two occasions.

    When he announced the arrest of nine people including the three Italians on Saturday, Ahmadi said the arms were intended for use against Helmand Governor Mangal.

    Helmand has been the stage of some of the fiercest fighting in the Afghan war since NATO launched a huge offensive against the Taliban in February. Italian Ambassador Claudio Glaentzer has met with Governor Mangal and reaffirmed Italy’s confidence in the Afghan justice system, the spokesman said.

    Glaentzer asked the Afghan investigators to bring their probe to a speedy conclusion “so that we know the results as soon as possible,” Ahmadi said.

    Any decision on keeping the three in Helmand or sending them to Kabul would be up to the central government, the spokesman said.

    The Afghan interior ministry said Monday the probe into the weapons was ongoing and speculation as to how it might turn out was premature. The head of Emergency, Gino Strada, has called the allegations against the three “a set-up” and suggested NATO wants Emergency out of the way because it is releasing undesired details about the civilian cost of the war.

    NATO has denied taking part in the raid on the hospital but Strada says soldiers wearing NATO gear were caught on video there. Frattini has said if the allegations against the three turn out to be true it would be a “disgrace for Italy”.

    On Monday NATO troops fired on a bus near Kandahar killing at least four civilians and wounding another 18. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and NATO admitted it had madea mistake, voicing “deep regret”.


  2. Pakistani jets kill civilians: villagers

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan

    Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:18am EDT

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Several days after Pakistani fighter jets killed scores near the Afghan border, villages told Reuters on Tuesday that all casualties were civilians.

    Military officials, however, said the 55 killed in Saturday’s attack on the remote village of Saravilla in the Khyber region were militants.

    “There were no militants,” Ikramullah Khan Kokikhel, a tribal elder from Saravilla, told Reuters. “It was a house of a tribesman whose three sons are serving as (government) military men.”

    Fighter jets first attacked the house Saturday morning. When residents arrived to remove bodies from the rubble, the jets attacked again, witnesses said.

    “It’s cruelty. We want a court martial of those who were behind this loss,” said Kokikhel. Zahir Noor, a villager from Saravilla, said there were bunkers around the village, but they were for defense against the militants.

    “We have opposed them openly and never allow them in our territory,” he said.

    The senior government official in the region, Shafeerullah Wazir, agreed most of the dead were not militants.

    “We believe that the information about the presence of militants in this locality was incorrect,” he told a tribal gathering in Peshawar, the major city that borders the Khyber region. “We’re investigating it.”

    He apologized on behalf of the government and said he regretted the loss of life.

    Such a large number of civilian casualties could be a blow to the government’s efforts to win over the tribal population from the Taliban, an effort the government says has been largely successful.

    The military denied civilians were killed.

    “The militants had built fortified bunkers and their hideouts were struck after we got ground confirmation by intelligence officials that they were present in their hideouts,” a military official said on Sunday. He said 35 militants were killed

    Pakistan has recently stepped up offensives in Khyber and neighboring Orakzai against militants, who fled military sweeps in the Taliban strongholds of Swat, South Waziristan and Bajaur last year.

    Khyber is a key supply route into Afghanistan for U.S. and allied convoys supplying troops there. Militant attacks have forced the United States to look at developing alternative routes.

    Pakistani action against militants along the Afghan border is seen as crucial to U.S. efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan, particularly as Washington sends more troops to fight a raging Taliban insurgency before a gradual withdrawal starts in 2011.

    (Reporting by Ibrahim Shinwari, with additional reporting by Kamran Haider in Islamabad; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Jerry Norton)


  3. Official Says Pakistan Airstrike Killed 71 Civilians

    by The Associated Press

    April 13, 2010

    Up to 71 civilians were killed in a weekend strike by Pakistani jets near the Afghan border, survivors and a government official said Tuesday — a rare confirmation of civilian casualties that risks undercutting public support for the fight against militants.

    The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said authorities had already handed out the equivalent of $125,000 in compensation to families of the victims in a remote village in the Khyber tribal area.

    Speaking Monday, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas denied that any of the dead were civilians, saying the air force had intelligence that militants were gathering at the site of the strike, which took place Saturday. The victims were initially reported to be suspected militants.

    Two survivors interviewed Tuesday in hospital gave a detailed account of the attack.

    They said most of the victims were killed when they were trying to rescue people trapped by an earlier strike on the house of a village elder.

    “This house was bombed on absolutely wrong information,” said Khanan Gul Khan, a resident of the village who was visiting a relative in hospital in Peshawar, the main town in the northwest. “This area has nothing to do with militants.”

    He said 68 people were killed and many more wounded. The political official said Monday that the families of 71 victims had been compensated, but did not identify them.

    Reports of significant civilian casualties in the strike Saturday have appeared in the local media in recent days.

    An editorial Tuesday in Dawn, a respected English-language daily, said it was clear that the dead had no links to the militants and that the incident “strengthens the hands of the Taliban.”

    “Such actions defy description and an explanation is in order from those who ordered the assault,” it said.

    The Pakistani army, under heavy pressure from the United States, has moved forcefully against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the northwest over the last 18 months. It regularly reports killing scores of militants in airstrikes, but rarely, if ever, reports on civilian deaths.

    Independent accounts of the attacks are rare because reporters are barred from much of the region.


  4. Colvin: Afghan detainee issue a ‘hot potato’

    Red Cross was losing track of ‘possibly all’ detainees: ex-diplomat

    Last Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | 11:52 AM ET

    CBC News

    Senior diplomat Richard Colvin says Canadian officials didn’t want to deal with the “high risk” of detainees being abused and tortured in Afghan custody when he was working in the country in 2006 and 2007.

    Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, appears before a House of Commons committee in Ottawa. Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, appears before a House of Commons committee in Ottawa. (CBC)In testimony Tuesday before the civilian-run Military Police Complaints Commission, Colvin also said he discovered the International Committee of the Red Cross had a “serious problem” keeping track of prisoners during his first visit to Kandahar province’s main prison in May 2006.

    Colvin said he had difficulty finding anyone in the Canadian Forces to take his calls regarding potential mistreatment of detainees at the hands of Canada’s Afghan allies. He said Maj. Erik Liebert, his colleague on the Provincial Reconstruction Team, told him “no one wants to touch this hot potato.”

    Colvin said his first visit to Sarpoza prison — within a month of his arrival in Afghanistan — immediately revealed “troubling aspects” about Canada’s system of notifying the Red Cross about detainees transferred into Afghan custody.

    Under a December 2005 memorandum of understanding, the Red Cross was responsible for monitoring and tracking detainees handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities.

    When Colvin first checked with Red Cross officials, he said he was surprised at how forceful they were about their concerns and how little information Canada gave them to track detainees after they were handed over.

    “They were losing many, if not most — and possibly all — of our detainees,” he said.
    Political firestorm

    Colvin sparked a political firestorm last November when he told a Commons committee that all detainees transferred to Afghan prisons were likely tortured by Afghan officials. He has alleged government and military officials were well aware of the problem.

    On Tuesday, Colvin reiterated his previous assertion that he and his colleagues soon heard “very credible” information about the “systemic risk” of mistreatment of prisoners.

    He said Canadian officials would often notify the Red Cross about transfers weeks or months after they occurred and would sometimes only include a name or a village, which wasn’t enough for the international agency to find the prisoners.

    “It seems to me intriguing that they are told they have the right to monitor, but then we block them from doing it,” he said.

    Colvin, who worked in Kandahar for the Foreign Affairs Department in 2006 and later worked as the Canadian Embassy’s second-in-command in Kabul, visited Afghan detainees as part of his duties. He wrote reports about those visits and sent them to Ottawa.

    The federal government and military commanders have said Colvin’s claims are baseless. But opposition parties have called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call a full public inquiry and are demanding the government release unredacted copies of all documents pertaining to the Afghan detainee affair.

    Citing security and safety concerns, the government has defended the practice of censoring documents, but has appointed retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to review the material.
    Ex-governor ‘a bad actor’

    Colvin also said Tuesday that in May and June 2006, Canadian government and military officials knew about the bad reputation of Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province at the time.

    Colvin said Canadian officials were hearing “credible” reports that Khalid was running a drug network and had a “terrible” human rights record, including reports of his use of private detention facilities to hold businessmen who, in some cases, were never seen again.

    He also detailed other reports of abuses swirling around the then-governor, including allegations of him using drugs and sexually abusing young girls.

    Colvin said he met with Khalid “quite regularly and described the feared governor as a “charming man” who spoke English well.

    However, “he was a bad actor,” Colvin said.

    The commission is holding hearings based on complaints filed in 2007 and 2008 by Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association that Canadian military police didn’t properly investigate officers responsible for directing detainee transfers.

    Transferring prisoners between countries while knowing they likely face torture is considered a war crime.

    With files from The Canadian Press


  5. Canadian Forces chief investigator unaware of detainee ruling

    Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Sansterre, commander of the National Investigations Service, speaks with a Military Police Complaints Commission lawyer during a break in testimony on April 12, 2010, in Ottawa.

    Commander of internal watchdog unit excused during testimony to read court decision that found ‘real and serious concerns’ about prisoner treatment in Afghanistan

    Steven Chase

    Ottawa — The Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Apr. 12, 2010 12:20PM EDT Last updated on Monday, Apr. 12, 2010 5:48PM EDT

    The Canadian military’s top investigator says he was unaware of a Federal Court ruling that found there were “real and serious concerns” about the protection of Afghan detainees transferred to possible torture.

    The ruling listed eight complaints of torture including detainees’ complaints of being electrocuted, beaten with cables, hung for days, cut and burned with a lighter.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Sansterre, commanding officer of the Canadian Forces internal National Investigative Service, says he didn’t know of a February, 2008, decision by Madam Justice Anne Mactavish.

    He testified today at a probe into Canada’s record on handling those taken prisoner by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and handed over to local interrogators.

    Lt.-Col. Sansterre was excused for half an hour to read the court decision, which discusses eight allegations of Afghan prisoner abuse made between May 3, 2007 and November 5, 2007.

    The court ruling is important because it goes to the heart of the very inquiry that Lt.-Col. Sansterre was testifying at today. It is part of the basis for the complaint that triggered hearings at the Military Police Complaints Commission.

    When he returned, the officer noted that all allegations of abuse have been investigated by Afghan authorities. Lt.-Col Sansterre said it wasn’t his place to “second-guess” what Afghan investigators had decided.

    The Military Police Complaints Commission is investigating allegations by Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association that both the National Investigative Service and military police “aided and abetted the torture of detainees” by handing over prisoners to Afghan jailers despite reports of maltreatment.

    Canada is bound by international conventions that make it a war crime to hand over prisoners to torture and oblige countries to take back captives being abused.


  6. The danger of being a US ally

    by Eric S. Margolis

    Karzai … Blamed for America’s failure.

    HENRY Kissinger once observed that it was more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy. The latest example: the US-installed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is in serious hot water with his really angry patrons in Washington.

    The Obama administration is blaming the largely powerless Karzai, a former CIA “asset”, for America’s failure to defeat Taliban. Washington accused Karzai of rigging last year’s elections. True enough, but the US pre-rigged the Afghan elections by excluding all parties opposed to Western occupation.

    Washington, which supports dictators and phony elections across the Muslim world, had the chutzpah to blast Karzai for corruption and rigging votes. This while the Pentagon was engineering a full military takeover of Pakistan.

    The Obama administration has made no secret it wanted to replace Karzai. You could almost hear Washington crying, “Bad puppet! Bad puppet!”

    Karzai fired back, accusing the US of vote-rigging. He has repeatedly been demanding the US military stop killing so many Afghan civilians.

    Next, Karzai dropped a bombshell, asserting the US was occupying Afghanistan to dominate the energy-rich Caspian Basin region, not because of the non-existent al-Qaeda or Taliban. Karzai said Taliban was “resisting Western occupation”. The US will soon have 100,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, plus 40,000 dragooned Nato troops. Karzai even half-jested he might join Taliban.

    Washington had apoplexy. A vicious propaganda campaign was unleashed against Karzai. The New York Times, a mouthpiece for the Obama administration and ardent backer of the Afghan war, all but called for the overthrow of Karzai and his replacement by a compliant general.

    An American self-promoter, Peter Galbraith, who had been fired from his job with the UN in Kabul, was trotted out to tell the media that Karzai might be both a drug addict and crazy.

    Behind this ugly, if also comical, spat lay a growing divergence between Afghans and Washington. After 31 years of conflict, nearly three million dead, millions more refugees, and frightful poverty, Afghans yearn for peace.

    For the past two years, Karzai and his warlord allies have been holding peace talks with Taliban in Saudi Arabia.

    Karzai knows the only way to end the Afghan conflict is to enfranchise the nation’s Pashtun majority and its fighting arm, Taliban. Political compromise with Taliban is the only – and inevitable – solution.

    But the Obama administration, misadvised by Washington neocons and other hardliners, is determined to “win” a military victory in Afghanistan (whatever that means) to save face as a great power, and impose a settlement that leaves it in control of strategic Afghanistan.

    Accordingly, the US thwarted Karzai’s peace talks by getting Pakistan, currently the recipient of US$7 billion (RM22 billion) in US cash, to arrest senior Taliban leaders sheltering there who had been part of the ongoing peace negotiations with Kabul.

    It was Karzai’s turn to be enraged. So he began openly defying his American patrons and adopting an independent position. The puppet was cutting his strings.

    Karzai’s newfound boldness was due to the fact that both India and China are eager to replace US/British/Nato domination of Afghanistan. India is pouring money, arms and agents into Afghanistan and training government forces. China, more discreetly, is moving in to exploit Afghanistan’s recently discovered mineral wealth that, says Karzai, is worth US$1 trillion (RM3.2 trillion), according to a US government geological survey.

    Russia, still smarting from its 1980’s defeat in Afghanistan, is watching America’s travails there with rich enjoyment. Moscow has its own ambitions in Afghanistan.

    This column has long suggested Karzai’s best option is to distance himself from American tutelage and demand the withdrawal of all foreign occupation forces. Risky business, of course. Remember Kissinger’s warning. Karzai could end up dead. But he could also become a national hero and best candidate to lead an independent Afghanistan that all ethnic groups could accept.

    Alas, the US keeps making the same mistake of seeking obedient clients rather than democratic allies who are genuinely popular and legitimate.

    Eric S. Margolis is a contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia. Comments:

    Updated: 09:33AM Tue, 13 Apr 2010


  7. Today and our allies are calling Congress (202-225-3121) to vote against $35 billion more for the Endless War in Afghanistan, because we desperately need those funds right here at home.

    Bob Fertik


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