Hundreds of Afghan civilians killed as US seeks to protect its troops


By Andrew Gumbel

22 July 2002



http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia_china/story.jsp?story=317201



American military forces have killed hundreds of

civilians in Afghanistan in recent months because they

have preferred to rely on the flawed intelligence of

warlords than risk casualties among their forces on

the ground, according to a survey in yesterday's New

York Times.



The survey, based on research by the non-profit

organisation Global Exchange, counted more than 800

civilians killed. The number is likely to rise as the

ongoing survey extends into more remote villages from

the 11 centres inspected so far.



What differentiates the Afghan campaign from previous

US military engagements is that the civilians,

increasingly, have not been caught up in strikes on

legitimate targets or killed as a result of bombs

going astray ? what in military parlance is known as

"collateral damage". Rather they have been

deliberately targeted by precision bombers acting on

flawed instructions from their superiors.



The sense of unease at the continuing campaign to

uproot Taliban and al-Qa'ida fighters reached a head

earlier this month when airstrikes on the village of

Kakrak, in Oruzgan province, targeted two engagement

parties. Local officials counted 54 dead, most of them

women and children, and at least 120 wounded.



Afghanistan's foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah,

said his government needed more say in how targets are

selected. "If things do not improve," he said, "I will

certainly pray for the Americans and wish them

success, but I will no longer be able to take part in

this."




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