Forty-seven more Afghan civilians
killed by U.S. bombs in two attacks
in Nuristan province, group says


Thirty-nine of the dead were women and children.  Victims
were walking on a road from the bride’s village to the groom’s
village.  The bride was among those killed.  The U.S. has yet
to admit civilians died in the two attacks and says civilians
are never targeted.  The U.S. spokesman, full of bullshit [see
2nd article below], says ‘
our forces go to great lengths to
avoid civilian casualties.’  Nuristan attacks remind of
other times U.S. strategy has included the deliberate
murder of civilians to demoralize populations
presumed to be supportive toward the enemy.



Amir Shah

Associated Press
July 11, 2008

 

A U.S. military airstrike this week killed 47 civilians traveling to a wedding, the head of an Afghan government commission investigating the incident said Friday.

The airstrike on Sunday in Deh Bala district of Nuristan province also wounded nine civilians, said Burhanullah Shinwari, the deputy chairman of the Senate, who led the delegation.

The U.S. military on Sunday denied that any civilians were killed in the incident. At the time Afghan officials said 27 civilians had been killed.

On Friday, U.S. coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry said that "any loss of innocent life is tragic."

"I assure you that civilians are never targeted, and that our forces go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties," he said. "This incident regarding the air strike on July 6th is still under investigation by coalition forces."

Shinwari said that 39 of those killed in the airstrike were women and children, including the bride.

The group was targeted twice on Sunday, as they walked along with the bride from her village toward the groom's house in another village, Shinwari said.

The nine-man commission was dispatched by President Hamid Karzai to investigate the incident on Tuesday. They returned to Kabul on Thursday. The commission included officials from the Ministry of Defense, the country's intelligence agency and parliament.

Shinwari said the group gathered information from eyewitnesses and victim's relatives.

All those killed in Deh Bala incident were buried in one cemetery near the village where the attack happened, Shinwari said.

"They were all civilians, with no links to al-Qaida or the Taliban," Shinwari said.

The members of the commission gave $2,000 for every person killed and $1,000 for those wounded, he said.

The issue of civilian casualties has caused friction between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO troops, and has weakened the standing of the Western-backed Karzai in the eyes of the population.

More than 2,100 people — mostly militants — have been killed in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan this year. More than 8,000 people died in attacks last year, according to the U.N., the most since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.



 

Deliberate killing of civilians
as a deliberate U.S. war strategy

 

G. J. Desnoyers
 

Note: The account of Operation Phoenix below is largely taken
from the 1994 book, The CIAs Greatest Hits, by Mark Zepezauer

 

The people of Nuristan province have good reason not to believe the U.S. claim that it never targets civilians.  Targeting civilians has been used in the past to demoralize populations deemed supportive of the enemy.  Hundreds of examples could be cited.  Examples of such killing on a massive scale includes such events as the fire-bombing of Tokyo and atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all in WW II.

But, because it's probably closer to what is going on in Nuristan province, consider the example of  Operation Phoenix in Vietnam.

Background

In August 1964 the U.S. government used a fictitious account of a Vietnamese attack in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam as a reason to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  In March 1965, U.S. troops began pouring into the country.  Nine years of backing the French, another nine years of backing Diem, and two more years of CIA operations had failed.  From this point on, the U.S. Army took over the war effort.  However, the U.S. Army's efforts were hindered by the Vietnamese people overwhelmingly supporting their own National Liberation Front (NLF, or "Viet Cong" as the U.S. called it).  The U.S. Army reacted to the civilian support for the NLF by destroying villages, herding people into internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside into a "free-fire zone" (in other words, shoot anything that moves).

Operation Phoenix

The CIA still had a role to play, however, called Operation Phoenix.  It was an assassination program plain and simple.  The idea was to cripple the NLF by killing influential people like mayors, teachers, doctors, tax collectors - anyone who aided the functioning of the NLF's parallel government in the South.

Many of the "suspects" were tortured and some were tossed from helicopters during interrogation.  William Colby, the CIA official in charge of Phoenix (he later became director of the CIA), insisted this was all part of "military necessity" - though he admitted to Congress that he really had no idea how many of the 20,000 killed were Viet Cong and how many were "loyal" Vietnamese.

Colby's confusion was understandable, since Operation Phoenix was a joint operation between the U.S. and the South Vietnamese.  It was hard for the U.S. to know the full extent to which the South Vietnamese used Phoenix as a means of extortion, a protection racket, and a way to settle vendettas.  Significantly, the South Vietnamese estimated the Operation Phoenix death toll at closer to 40,000.  Whatever the exact number, Operation Phoenix's U.S. operatives had no question the the murdering of civilians was necessary.  After all, they were trying to prevent a blood bath.

Back to Top
 

 

Home