PAN, May 26, 2008

'Civilians the worst sufferers of Helmand operation'

More civilians were killed and wounded in the bombardments and raids that worried the local population.

Makia Monri

Senators and public representatives from the restive Helmand province have expressed deep concern over the displacement and suffering of Garmser residents due to the ongoing operation to recapture the district from Taliban.

Victim of Musa Qala bombing

IWPR, December 11, 2007: Residents of a southern village tell of a night of violence at the hands of foreign and Afghan soldiers. “They killed civilians - people like me - with rough farmers’ hands. If you don’t believe me, then come with me to the cemetery. I will dig up the bodies to show you.”

Photo Gallary of US victims in Afghanistan ( )
The Afghan Victim Memorial Project by Prof. Marc ( )

Two senators from Helmand told reporters in Kabul on Monday that many civilians were killed, wounded and displaced during the operation by NATO and Afghan forces.

Haji Mahboob Garmsiri, a senator from the district, and Haji Sher Muhammad Akhunzada, head of the parliamentary committee for internal safety in the senate also from Helmand, said that the civilians were the worst sufferers in the operation.

Garmsiri added that thousands of families from Garmsir have fled their homes to other parts of Helmand and areas bordering Pakistan and had been left in the lurch.

He said only the United Nations Development Program has distributed some aid to the IDPs, but that was very insufficient.

He also blamed foreign troops of breaking into civilians homes and detaining innocent people. He said there were already dozens of people detained some of them taken to the Kandahar air field and some were freed later. He also claimed that more civilians were killed and wounded in the bombardments and raids that worried the local population. He blamed the Afghan forces of looting public property.

Mahboob said the district headquarters was in control of the government and the rest of the areas were under control of the Taliban.

Earlier, head of the Helmand provincial council, Haji Muhamamd Anwar, said more than 10,000 families have been displaced from the area.

Sher Muhammad Akhunzada told the press conference that harsh treatment of foreign and Afghan forces with local people was causing further alienation of the population and have already resulted in more areas to fall in hands of the Taliban.

If the situation does not improve, people will increasingly turn to the Taliban and against the government, said Akhunzada.

He asked the central government to talk to the local people to find a solution to the worsening situation in Helmand.

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