Early Thursday, the United States reported having killed 30 insurgents in an attack in the Afghan province of Laghman. While it was unclear if the attack was directly related to the killing of 10 French soldiers earlier this week in a nearby ambush, top coalition spokeswoman Lt. Col. Nielson-Green claimed to be certain that they were ‘at a minimum complicit’, though she also insisted that it ‘doesn’t matter if they were or weren’t involved’.
The official story was thrown into disarray, however, when provincial officials began reporting that many of those killed in the air strikes were civilians. While the US denied any knowledge of any non-combatant deaths, al-Jazeera quotes an Afghan politician as saying that at least 20 of the 30 “insurgents” killed were actually civilians. A surgeon reported that 20 others were wounded in the attack, mostly women and children.
The US regularly denies Afghan reports of civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes, as with the bombing of a wedding party last month, in which the US military initially announced killed several insurgents. When reports arose that civilians were killed it was dismissed as “militant propaganda”, but an official Afghan inquiry later showed that the strike killed 47 civilians, 39 of whom were women and children, and not a single one had any links with the Taliban or al-Qaeda. It was only three weeks later that NATO announced its own inquiry into the matter, prefaced with NATO spokesman Mark Laity’s comment “If we don’t drop a bomb, they (the Taliban) win”.
compiled by Jason Ditz