Village elders in Mehtar Lam district of Afghanistan‘s Laghman province say that as many as 22 noncombatants were killed in a Jan. 25 US air-raid, in the fist controversy over civilian casualties since Barack Obama took office. US military officials insisting only 15 were killed, all Taliban fighters. An official statement said the strike targeted a Taliban commander “known to traffic foreign fighters and weapons into the region” after coalition ground troops came under fire in the village. Village elders said there were no Taliban in the area, wand said the hamlet was populated mainly by shepherds. They said women and children were among the 22 civilian dead, according to Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, head of the provincial council. (LAT, Jan. 25)
The outrage comes on the heels of a similar controversy in Pakistan.
NATO forces killed 100 Afghan civilians in 2008
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan killed nearly 100 civilians in 2008, the alliance announced Jan. 28. “In 2008 NATO-ISAF was responsible for 97—let’s say, around 100—civilian casualties [deaths],” NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters. In contrast, Taliban/al-Qaeda insurgents killed 973 civilians last year, he said. (Xinhua, Jan. 28)
US pays in Afghan deaths
From AP, Jan. 20: