Massacre in Afghanistan: U.S. Bombing or Taliban Trick?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

U.S. military officials tried to blame the Taliban for the carnage in western Afghanistan earlier this week, only to have others in the Defense Department admit that American air strikes were at least partially responsible for the death of more than 100 people. Shortly after U.S. aircraft bombed the villages of Ganjabad and Gerani in Farah province, Pentagon sources tried to claim that Taliban guerillas, who were hiding in the village after ambushing Afghan forces, had slaughtered the civilians with grenades to “stage” a massacre and blame the U.S. But by Thursday, a Defense official told the New York Times that the early claims faulting the Taliban were “thinly sourced,” and that some of the dead were killed by American bombs.

Afghan officials were outraged by both the attack and the U.S. efforts to avoid responsibility. Muhammad Naeem Farahi, a Parliament member from Farah, scoffed at the suggestion that the Taliban were to blame. “No, that’s not true,” he told the New York Times, “and I am someone who supports the American presence.” The massacre provoked street protests outside police stations and the governor’s office in Farah, with some chanting “Death to America” and demanding the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
The conflict in Afghanistan killed more than 2,000 civilians last year, according to the United Nations. If, as villagers claim, 147 civilians died in the bombing, it would be deadliest incident in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces invaded the country 7 ½ years ago.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Admits Civilians Died in Afghan Raids (By Elisabeth Bumiller and Carlotta Gall, New York Times)


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