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93 Children Among 140 Afghan Airstrike Dead

Posted by Steve Hynd on May 13th, 2009

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A report by Afghan officials has concluded that 93 children, 25 women and only 22 adult men were killed during fighting and airstrikes in Bala Boluk.

The list, obtained by Reuters, bears the endorsement of seven senior provincial and central government officials, including an Afghan two-star general who headed a task force dispatched by the government to investigate the incident.

Titled “list of the martyrs of the bombardment of Bala Boluk district of Farah Province“, it includes the name, age and father’s name of each alleged victim.

The youngest was listed as 8-day-old baby Sayed Musa, son of Sayed Adam. Fifty-three victims were girls under the age of 18, and 40 were boys. Only 22 were men 18 or older.

…The Afghan government has endorsed the list, and Karzai went on U.S. television to call for an end to all U.S. air strikes, only to be rebuffed by Washington. Afghan officials say the issue helps insurgents by turning the public against foreign forces.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, is still spinning as hard as it can to sidestep any blame. Talk about a tin ear for the “hearts and minds” of people-centric COIN operations:

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian said villagers had an incentive to invent names of dead relatives in the hope of collecting compensation.

“Well I could give you 140 names too. The problem is there is no evidence of that number of graves … Are those real people? Did they ever actually exist? I can give you a list of 53 girls names with their ages,” he said “There are no birth certificates and there are no death certificates.”

“Conditions exist that encourage exaggeration,” Julian added.

“If you say that the Taliban killed your family you’d get nothing. If you say the Americans killed your family, you might get assistance, whether they existed or not.”

Julian said investigators had been shown 26 individual graves at the site and one mass grave, which he said was not large enough to contain so many bodies. He estimated the overall toll could not exceed 80.

The first US military estimate for the number of dead in Bala Boluk was 30, then it was 50, now it’s 80…and Col. Julian has the balls to call Afghans with dead babies out as liars for money! Did he forget what such accusations do to public opinion in an honor society? Did he stop to consider that a mass grave can hold more bodies if many are tiny? Douchebag.

Here’s what it’s like on the receiving end of an airstrike, from the personal recollection of one Afghan of a US bombing last July in which so little was left of the 47 victims that they were buried in 28 graves (and, mind you, an attack in which the U.S. military eventually accepted the death toll after initial denials):

We were walking, I was holding my grandson’s hand, then there was a loud noise and everything went white. When I opened my eyes, everybody was screaming. I was lying metres from where I had been, I was still holding my grandson’s hand but the rest of him was gone. I looked around and saw pieces of bodies everywhere. I couldn’t make out which part was which.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban have denied U.S. allegations that the former used white phosphorus grenades to burn villagers hoping the U.S. would get the blame.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the Islamist group did not use white phosphorous at all. “We neither have nor use phosphorous. The Americans have used it in many operations and now want to attribute their tyranny to the Taliban,” he alleged in a telephone conversation with the Reuters news agency.

Reuters reported last week that US military doctors had treated an eight-year-old girl with white phosphorous burns. The US military said it believed that no rounds had been fired by Western forces near her house when she was hurt, and that a mortar fired by militants may have been to blame.

However, the girl’s father told Reuters that the house was hit by a volley of artillery fired by Western troops. In Monday’s list of 44 incidents, Western forces reported insurgents had actually fired the rounds in just 11 cases. In eight, they were used or found in homemade bombs. In the 25 other cases, they were found unused, usually scattered among caches of other weapons and ammunition.

Sure, the Taliban are liars – but so are the U.S. military when it comes to accepting both civilian death tolls and responsibility for those death tolls. And with the vast preponderance of WP rounds used in Afghanistan being used by the Coalition, the probability is that any WP burns in Bala Boluk or elsewhere were caused by illumination missions gone wrong or by deliberate “shake and bake” missions which ended up falling on civilians instead of or as well as Taliban fighters.

(Also on News Hoggers)

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  1. [...] that around 140 civilians were killed, of which 93 were children – the youngest 8 days old – 25 were women and 22 were adult males.  The U.S. military had said that 20-30 civilians were killed along with [...]

  2. [...] that around 140 civilians were killed, of which 93 were children – the youngest 8 days old – 25 were women and 22 were adult males.  The U.S. military had said that 20-30 civilians were killed along [...]

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