RAWA News, August 31, 2008
In memory of 91 innocent Afghans massacred by US troops in Azizabad
Killed in a 6-hour air and ground assault by U.S and Afghan commando forces
By Marc W. Herold
(5-) 76-91 civilians killed (61 children, 15 women, 15 men) including:
An Afghan man shows a shirt of a child who he said was killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in western Herat province, Afghanistan. (Jalil Rezayee / EPA)
Photo Gallery of US victims in Afghanistan ( )
The Afghan Victim Memorial Project by Prof. Marc ( )
Between 2 – 8 AM on August 22, 2008 in the village of Azizabad located 4 miles due east of the Shindand air base and due south of Herat city in Herat Province. A ground force led by U.S. Special Forces (7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) based in Shindand), allegedly came under fire as it approached the village, carrying out a midnight raid to allegedly apprehend a Taliban commander, Mullah Siddiq. The U.S. Special Forces called-in close air support and a fierce bombardment of the village ensued involving both ground and air fire (including from a US Air Force Special Operations AC-130 aerial gunship, Apache attack helicopters and Predator drones). The U.S. bombs struck a large gathering of people who had congregated in Azizabad to honor a local leader who had died months earlier. A resident, Fatima, 25, explained from her hospital bed in Herat, where she wept and cursed those who carried out the air strike. “We were holding a memorial service in our home,” she said, tears running down her face. “Suddenly the infidels attacked and I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was in hospital, and they told me that all of my family were dead and already buried. Was my two-year-old child a terrorist? Then am I not also a terrorist? Why did they let me live?” On Friday morning, Ghulam Azrat, 50, director of the middle school in Azizabad, said he collected 60 bodies after the bombing. He told the A.P. by phone, “We put the bodies in the main mosque. Most of these dead bodies were children and women. It took all morning to collect them.” National Public Radio’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson visited Azizabad and reported,
The photo below (by Soraya Nelson) shows Multan, 15, in a prayer vigil in front of his brother-in-law’s grave killed in the assault upon Azizabad. Multan said the 22 year old had just gotten married a couple of weeks ago:
Nearby, a 27-year-old policeman named Daud wanders around in a tearful daze. He clings to a tattered piece of black cloth. It is part of the outfit he says his youngest daughter, aged 3, had on when she was killed, along with her five siblings and his wife. Daud says he was at a highway checkpoint far away when the soldiers and war planes came. Now, he doesn't know what he'll do. But he says one thing is for sure — he's quitting the force. He says he can no longer protect his country, not after his country failed to protect his family.
An angry survivor in Azizabad shouts anti-U.S. slogans in front of her destroyed home (photo by Fraidoon Pooyaa, A.P.):
Gulbuddin, another resident told reporters from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), “Americans think all Afghans are terrorists and they send rockets and missiles against us. I myself buried more than 50 women and children. Are all of them terrorists?”
BBC Persia sent reporters to speak with residents of Azizabad. They reported speaking with villagers,
Nur Ahmad, 55, was saved by a rescue team in Azizabad after being buried in rubble by the U.S. attack. He commented to IWPR,
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said its investigators on-site concluded 91 people had perished: 59 children, 19 women and 13 men. Ahmad Nader Nadery, head of the AIHRC, said 76 of the victims belonged to one large extended family – that of Timor Shah’s brother who is named Reza. Reza was killed in the assault. Nadery confirmed reports from villagers that a memorial ceremony was being held for a deputy militia commander allied with the Afghan police named Timor Shah, who had died in a personal dispute several months ago. Because of the memorial, relatives and friends from outside Azizabad were staying overnight in village homes, he said. Government officials who travelled to the village of Azizabad in Herat province said the death toll had risen to 95 from 76, making it one of the deadliest bombing strikes on civilians in six years of war.
True to form, the U.S. military insists that it struck compounds harboring a Taliban leader and his troops, killing 25 “Taliban.”. It admitted that 5 civilians were killed (2 women and 3 children) but they were “connected to the militants.” Recall too that just some months ago, Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, announced to the world that the U.S. military had “all but eliminated civilian casualties” in pre-planned air strikes. It’s certainly unclear how pre-planned these midnight air strikes were. The European Union in Brussels expressed ‘consternation’ that more than 90 civilians were killed in US-led strikes.
The day after the massacre, villagers gathered in protest. When Karzai’s soldiers tried to distribute food and clothes (and $2,000 “condolence” money for each dead victim), they pelted the troops with stones. Karzai’s soldiers fired into the crowd, injuring up to 8 people (including one child critically). Ghulam Azrat recounted, “The People are very angry. They told the soldiers, ‘We don’t need your food; we don’t need your clothes. We want our children. We want our relatives.” Another resident, Hamidullah, said, “They destroyed our houses, killed dozens of people and they still send us wheat.” He added they did not want wheat but rather punishment of the criminals.
Nek Mohammad Ishaq, a provincial council member in Herat and a member of the government delegations sent to investigate in Azizabad, sat with villagers on the floor of the mosque. Ishaq said a man walked in, holding a hander kerchief which he wanted everyone to see. In it were body parts of children: fingers, bits of hand and feet.
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