'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Afghanistan: The Other Lost War 

From an article published by Jane Kay of the World Socialist Web Site:

Bombing raids by US-led NATO forces in western Afghanistan last week killed at least 50 civilians and perhaps over 100, reports from Afghan government officials and human rights organizations have confirmed.

The aerial bombings took place on April 28 and 29 in the Shindand District of the western province of Herat. According to a statement by the US military, 136 “Taliban fighters” were killed in two separate bombing raids, but this claim provoked immediate anger and skepticism on the part of local residents, who insist that there are no Taliban in the region. Earlier this week, thousands gathered to protest the killings and denounce the US-backed government of Hamid Karzai. At least 20 were wounded when Afghan police opened fire on the demonstrators.

In recent days, reports have emerged from the province itself about the nature of the bombings. Ghalum Nabi Hakak, the Herat representative of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, told the Washington Post on Wednesday night, “So far the people have buried 45 bodies, and they are still taking out more. Yesterday they buried 12 children,” he said. “The exact number of dead is not clear, but the people are very angry.”

Those who visited the area said that by mid-week villagers were still attempting to dig out bodies from collapsed mud houses destroyed in the NATO raids on two villages.

Reports differ on the number of people killed and displaced by the bombings. One resident said that more than 100 people had been killed, and all were civilians. Many more were injured. Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said a separate investigation found 49 civilians killed and over 900 families displaced. Farzana Ahmadi, a spokeswoman for the governor of Herat, said that 100 houses were destroyed and 1,600 people rendered homeless.

Ahmadi said that a report prepared by local officials concluded that “some women and children were drowned in the river, and it was maybe in the heat of the moment that the children and people wanted to escape and jumped into the water.”

Now, there are reports that 13 more civilians may have been killed on Tuesday night. One wonders if NATO is subjecting the Afghans to the kinds of indiscriminate, violent brutalities that occupation forces have inflicted upon people so often in the past when it is no longer possible to evade recognition of defeat.

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