Afghanistan: slaughter of the innocents

At least seven children were killed in a US air raid against a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in the Zargun Shah district of eastern Afghanistan's Paktika province June 17. The victims are believed to have been students at a madrassa near a mosque at the targeted compound. The Coalition statement expressing regret for the loss of life said residents in the area had confirmed that al-Qaeda fighters were present in the area all day. "This is another example of al-Qaeda using the protective status of a mosque, as well as innocent civilians, to shield themselves," said Major Chris Belcher. The mosque is said to have been slightly damaged in the strike. (AKI, June 18)

Presumed Taliban guerillas killed eleven children in a suicide bomb attack against Coalition forces in Tirin Kot, Uruzgan, June 15. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement protesting the attack. Coomaraswamy also charging that insurgents targeting schools, noting a recent attack near Kabul that left two school girls dead. Coomaraswamy additionally accused insurgents of using children as human shields. The Special Representative also expressed concern over the Zarghun Shah raid, also citing a recent Coalition raid in Mangai that left three children dead and three injured. "Children are caught in the crossfire and the number of victims is escalating," she said. (ReliefWeb, June 19; Boston Globe, June 20)

See our last post on Afghanistan.