Thursday, October 9, 2008

    7:14 AM   No comments
US admits higher Afghan raid toll (play video clip)

The video thought to show victims of the attack was apparently recorded on a mobile phone

A US military inquiry has found that an air strike on militants in western Afghanistan on 22 August killed many more civilians than first acknowledged.

US Central Command said 33 civilians, not seven, had died in the village of Azizabad in Herat province.

While voicing regret, it said US forces had followed rules of engagement.

Officials from the UN and the Afghan government say up to 90 people - including 60 children - died in the strike on Azizabad.

Video footage, apparently of the aftermath of the raid, showed some 40 dead bodies lined up under sheets and blankets inside a mosque.

The majority of the dead captured on the video were children, babies and toddlers, some burned so badly they were barely recognisable.

US forces had originally said seven civilians were killed in a "successful" US raid targeting a Taleban commander in Azizabad.

Announcing the findings of US Central Command's inquiry, Lt Gen Martin Dempsey said that US forces had acted on credible intelligence, in self-defence and in line with rules of engagement.

The US forces had called for air support during the operation with Afghan troops, after they were fired upon from a suspected Taleban compound.

Lt Gen Dempsey said that 22 insurgents had also been killed in the attack.

"We are deeply saddened at the loss of innocent life in Azizabad," he added.

"We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan in all our operations, but as we have seen all too often, this ruthless enemy routinely surround themselves with innocents.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

30 Civilians Died in Afghan Raid, U.S. Inquiry Finds

    7:32 AM   No comments

WASHINGTON — An investigation by the military has concluded that American airstrikes on Aug. 22 in a village in western Afghanistan killed far more civilians than American commanders there have acknowledged, according to two American military officials.

The military investigator’s report found that more than 30 civilians — not 5 to 7 as the military has long insisted — died in the airstrikes against a suspected Taliban compound in Azizabad.

The investigator, Brig. Gen. Michael W. Callan of the Air Force, concluded that many more civilians, including women and children, had been buried in the rubble than the military had asserted, one of the military officials said.

The airstrikes have been the focus of sharp tensions between the Afghan government, which has said that 90 civilians died in the raid, and the American military, under Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top American military commander in Afghanistan, which has repeatedly insisted that only a handful of civilians were killed.

The report was requested by General McKiernan on Sept. 7, more than two weeks after the airstrikes, in response to what he said at the time was “emerging evidence” about the raids. While American commanders in Afghanistan have contended that 30 to 35 militants were killed in the raid, the new report concludes that many among that group were in fact civilians, the military officials said.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

America and its Wars on Terror

    10:29 AM   No comments
As the US-led "War on Terror" has moved towards an attritional conflict with groups perceived as extremist, Al Jazeera investigates the full implications of this war as it affects the politics and people of the world.

In 2007, America's military spending was higher than at any time since the Second World War but terrorist attacks around the world have increased every year since 2001.

We visit Iraq and Afghanistan, sites of the most prolific terrorist incidents to investigate the human cost of the "War on Terror" as it is played out across ordinary peoples' lives.

With Iraq and Afghanistan enduring as the war's primary focus, we go to Somalia to uncover what some regard as the unofficial third front of the so-called war on terror.

As US-backed Ethiopian forces engage in gun battles with divergent bands of militia intent on resistance, we analyse how this violence and unrest has become a microcosm of the wider war and try to glean what lessons can be learned from the fighting in East Africa.

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst Marwan Bishara is joined by leading analysts as well as the former US commander of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Watch the show online:




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