Pajhwok Afghan News, October 25, 2006

90 civilians perish in NATO air strike: Residents

ISAF spokesman in Kandahar Morall has confirmed killing of four civilians in the bombing

Javid Hamim, Ahmad Farzan

Haji Nik Mohammad of Panjwaee village
Haji Nik Mohammad from Panjwaye village of Qandadahar told journalists on Oct.26, 2006:
"I prefer to join the Taliban forces because Taliban have so far killed only 2 people in my village while the collations forces killed 63 people in a single day. Now you tell me who is my real enemy, the Taliban or the foreign troops?"

Mohammad-ullah, 14-year-old boy is seriously wounded in NATO bombardment of Panjwaye village in Kandahar.

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KABUL, Oct 25 (Pajhwok Afghan News): About 90 civilians were killed in NATO air strike in Panjwaye district of the southern Kandahar province, residents said on Wednesday. However, NATO-led ISAF forces claim they had killed 38 Taliban fighters in the bombing.

Residents of Panjwaye also said civilians had suffered great casualties in Tuesday clash and bombardment. Ahmadullah, resident of Zangawad village, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Wednesday that 50 houses of civilians were killed in the bombing.

He said they had retrieved 30 dead bodies from the rubbles and some corpses were still strangled here. He said about 90 civilians were killed in the Tuesday air strikes. Per Agha, who has shifted his injured to Kandahar Civil Hospital, told this news agency one woman member of his family was killed and three others were wounded. He said he had shifted the injured members to hospital for treatment.

Agha said some members of his family were missing that were perhaps buried in the debris. Another attendant Dad Mohammad said NATO forces heavily bombarded Laknai village of Zangawad area of the Panjwaye district. He also said 90 civilians were killed in this air strike.

A Dr at Kandahar Civil Hospital, requesting anonymity, told this news agency they had received seven wounded including women and children so far. He said ambulances were sent in the area and the number of wounded might be increased.

NATO forces claimed they had killed 38 Taliban fighters in the attack.

"In two separate engagements we killed 38 insurgents yesterday through very careful targeting against specific groups of insurgents trying to infiltrate back into Zhari and Panjwayi," a spokesman for the NATO force told Pajhwok Afghan News.

"We had eyes on them and we knew what they were up to and took action," International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Major Luke Knittig said on Wednesday. The area, which is about 35 kilometres (19 miles) west of Kandahar city, was the focus of nearly two weeks of intense fighting last month as part of Operation Medusa, ISAF's largest anti-Taliban offensive.

NATO said afterwards that its soldiers and the Afghan troops involved in the operation had handed the Taliban their heaviest defeat since the hardliners were driven from power in late 2001. ISAF says it is now rebuilding the war damage and setting in place reconstruction projects designed to persuade locals to shun the Taliban.

"We are continuing projects and things that are already putting in place economic development on the ground in follow up to Operation Medusa and insurgents continue to attempt to infiltrate back," Knittig said. "We are trying to deal with that infiltration." Regarding the civilians casualties, Knitting said they had also received such reports and had started investigation in this regard.

The Taliban and other anti-government groups in Afghanistan have gained public support due to the Afghan government's failure to provideessential security and development, and have used the presence of warlords in the government to discredit President Karzai's administration and its international backers.
HRW, Sep. 27, 2006

However, NATO-led ISAF spokesman in Kandahar Morall has confirmed killing of four civilians in the bombing. Afghan officials have yet to comment about the civilians casualties. Pajhwok contacted several times the ministry of interior, but every time the reply it received was the spokesman is busy in a meeting. Likewise, Taliban have yet to comment on the incident.

KABUL, Oct 26 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed concern on civilians casualties in NATO air strikes in Nangawat village of Pajnwaye district in the southern Kandahar province.

A press statement from UNAMA stated the United Nations had always made clear that the safety and welfare of civilians must always come first and any civilian casualties were unacceptable, without exception. According to residents about 90 civilians were killed in NATO air strike in Panjwaye district of the southern Kandahar province. However, NATO-led ISAF forces claim they had killed 38 Taliban fighters in the bombing.

It was clearly in the interests of everyone that the facts be established regarding these events and it was imperative that a thorough investigation was carried out, the statement added.

At this difficult time, the thoughts of the entire United Nations family in Afghanistan were with those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy, the release added.

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