Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
NANGARHAR, Afghanistan – Investigation into questionable night raids continues as the death toll rises over the past week. The US military has been conducting night raids on several targeted villages in Afghanistan. These raids are night efforts to catch and put a stop to the villages harboring Al-Queda operatives. Night raids or “sneak attacks” by US troops have been demonized by casualties’ bereaved families, for they are often premised on faulty evidence.
The grieving families claim that innocent civilians are being killed under mistaken identity. The US military does not agree. After nine civilians were killed this week, the US launched criminal investigations.
Col. Wayne Shanks says they had concrete intelligence that a Taliban sub-commander was in the housing compound at the time and was planning an imminent attack on a US base. “It was an urgent need for us to go in and stop the attack to prevent casualties on our side but also innocent casualties,” he said.
Resident Ehassamudion Kushkaki told CNN the U.S. military did not announce their arrival at 1a.m. local time while everyone was sleeping, so two of the nine killed were shooting, thinking they were being attacked by thieves. The U.S. military insists it announced its arrival and says all of those killed were shooting at the forces.
‘”No charges have been preferred at this time; however, one soldier has been placed in pre-trial confinement,” the military said in a statement”. The soldier confined also faces illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy claims.
Miles away in London, Fatima Ayud has been campaigning for night raids to stop and offering help to affected families. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has sought to minimize the use of night raids, noting past public anger. Ayud says it’s not enough after, herself being a victim after a raid attack targeted her extended family.
Nasrutullah Arsala, head of Nangarhar provincial council, tells CNN, “There’s no doubt that when these cases happen, the people rise up and the gap between the government and people widens.” This form of impunity thwarts American efforts and energizes the Taliban resistance.
For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera English- US opens Afghan deaths probe – 20 May 2010
CNN World – Civilians or fighters? Debate lingers over deaths at housing compound – 25 May 2010
The Huffington Post – US Investigating Afgahan Civilian Deaths – 20 May 2010
Image Courtesy of Army Times