Afghanistan: NATO raid kills civilians —again

A woman and seven young children were killed in southern Afghanistan‘s Helmand province when a NATO patrol called in an airstrike against insurgents firing on them from a mud compound, local Afghan officials said Aug. 6. Habibullah Shamlani, the governor of Nad-Ali district, said the foot patrol came under fire from the compound the previous day. One soldier was killed, and an Afghan interpreter was wounded. The home belonged to Mullah Abdul Hadi, a local imam who Afghan officials say was assisting the Taliban. He was killed along with one of his two wives and his seven children, all younger than seven years old, Shamlani said. “People from the area said the imam was involved in making IEDs,” or improvised explosive devices, Shamlani said. “We found three hand grenades in his house.” NATO would not confirm whether any civilians were killed, but did say in a statement that “shortly following the engagement, coalition forces received reports that civilians were being held captive by the insurgents and may have been present during the airstrike.” (NYT, Aug. 6)

Coalition forces suffered the largest loss of life in a single incident since US forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 when a transport helicopter crashed during a raid in Wardak province Aug. 6, killing 31 US special operations troops and seven Afghan soldiers. The Taliban and an Afghan official claimed the Chinook was shot down, but the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would not confirm this.

The helicopter crashed in the Tangi Valley in Saydabad district, a known Taliban haven. The 30 US troops included 25 Navy SEALs, and more than 20 members from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, more commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6—the unit that carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. There is no indication that any of the SEALs killed in the crash were actually involved in the bin Laden raid. (Long War Journal, LAT, Aug. 6)

Also Aug. 6, a bomb attack on a terminal near Peshawar, Pakistan, destroyed 16 tankers carrying fuel for US-led forces in Afghanistan. (AP, Aug. 6)

See our last post on civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

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