Vol. 75/No. 22 June 6, 2011
Afghans protest U.S. hunter-killer raids
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
Some 2,000 people demonstrated in a funeral march in the northern city of Taloqan in Afghanistan’s Takhar Province May 18. They were protesting the killing of civilians in a night raid on a house by U.S.-led forces and Afghan troops in that town. The dead included the owner of the house, his wife, daughter, and a guest, the provincial governor’s office told the media.
Shouting “Death to [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai! Death to America!” the marchers carried aloft the bodies of the two men and two women killed. Afghan police and NATO troops opened fire on the demonstrators, killing 10 of them and injuring more than 50. Protesters returned to the streets the following day.
The demonstration occurred in the same province where a U.S. special forces’ operation last September mistakenly targeted and killed 10 people traveling as part of an election campaign convoy for a parliamentary candidate.
The May 18 raid is just one recent example of “collateral damage” from U.S. special forces’ hunter-killer operations. In the last week alone, three other commando raids in eastern Afghanistan killed children, among other noncombatants. Afghan cops opened fire May 15 on marchers protesting a raid in Nangahar Province the night before, killing a 15-year-old boy. Among those killed at the protest was a 14-year-old boy.
NATO officials claim that the latest raid killed militants affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group that backs the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. The protesters emphatically pointed out that all four were civilians. U.S.-backed President Karzai condemned the assault, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
In a statement on its website, the German Defense Ministry “admitted that its troops deliberately fired upon the demonstrators,” reported Spiegel online, backtracking from its previous story that its troops only fired warning shots. Two German soldiers were killed. Berlin has nearly 5,000 troops stationed in northern Afghanistan.