Locals of the Laghman Province claim civilians were killed in a NATO raid, contrary to NATO claims, and that they are not “insurgents”, but people defending their home against NATO’s ‘broken promises’ to not raid their village (2:00):
The Kabul government has sent a “delegation” to Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman Province to investigate villagers’ claims that civilians were killed in a Saturday night raid by NATO, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday, Reuters reported (via The New York Times).
At least 30 were killed in the “assault” and NATO claims that all were “insurgents”—a clever word to use because it only means that those who died were fighting back against the NATO raid. Even finding that non-combatants may have been killed would not tell the whole story.
NATO cannot prove that people with connections to the Haqqani or Quetta Shura Networks were killed and until they can, it’s most reasonable to assume, like most reports, that all casualties were civilians. And, as the report continues, the clever language-crafting still can’t prevent the rise of civilian casualties—as the U.S.-led coalition narrowly classifies “civilians”:
Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces hunting militants have long been a major source of tension between Karzai and the Western nations whose troops help support his government in the face of a growing insurgency.
A mid-year United Nations report painted a dark picture of security in Afghanistan in the first half of 2010, with violent civilian deaths jumping 31 percent, although the total number caused by aerial attacks fell 64 percent.
These are war crimes, along with the C.I.A. “drastically” increasing the frequency of drone strikes in Pakistan over the last month. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt reported yesterday at The New York Times:
The 20 C.I.A. drone attacks in September represent the most intense bombardment by the spy agency since January, when the C.I.A. carried out 11 strikes after a suicide bomber killed seven agency operatives at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan.
According to one Pakistani intelligence official, the recent drone attacks have not killed any senior Taliban or Qaeda leaders. Many senior operatives have already fled North Waziristan, he said, to escape the C.I.A. drone campaign.
Over all the spy agency has carried out 74 drone attacks this year, according to the Web site The Long War Journal, which tracks the strikes. A vast majority of the attacks—which usually involve several drones firing multiple missiles or bombs—have taken place in North Waziristan.
The Obama administration has enthusiastically embraced the C.I.A.’s drone program, an ambitious and historically unusual war campaign by American spies. According to The Long War Journal, the spy agency in 2009 and 2010 has launched nearly four times as many attacks as it did during the final year of the Bush administration.
These include the deadly strikes over the weekend.