Friday’s riots in Kabul, caused by the death of an Afghan civilian at the hands of foreign troops, were just the latest sign of the anger felt by many Afghans at continuing civilian casualties.
Figures show that at least 540 Afghans civilians were killed in the first nine months of 2008. Of these, 367 were killed by the Taliban and other militants, many in suicide attacks.
Nasir Ali's family
Two suicide bombers have struck Kabul in the last week. Seven people have been killed and 27 were wounded. All of them were civilians.
Nasir Ali was a street sweeper. On Sunday, he was working outside the Habibia High School in Kabul when a bicycle-born suicide bomb exploded next to him. The target of the attack was a German Embassy car, though there were no foreigners in the car when the bomber detonated himself.
Ali had eight children, the youngest only four years old. Ali’s wife is sick and is not aware of her husband’s death. Ali was the family’s only bread winner. His family are worried about making next month’s rent.
Daily tragedies such as the Ali family’s cannot only be blamed on militants. In 2007, 320 civilians were killed in NATO and US airstrikes, according to Human Rights Watch, a Washington based organisation.
While each casualty brings apologies and investigations from foreign spokesmen, the recent run of tragic mistakes, including several on wedding parties, shows that, at a tactical level, foreign forces have not adapted to the Taliban use of civilians as human shields.
“I can’t stop airplanes from flying in Afghanistan – we have no air force that is the problem,” a clearly frustrated President Karzai said last week.
Whether caused by militants or air-strikes, the killing of innocent Afghans clearly goes against Islamic laws, religious scholars say.