Wednesday, September 03, 2008

AIHRC says: US troops are committing war crimes

RINF.Com,Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

By Parwiz Shamal

AN AFGHAN human rights organisation has accused the United States army of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Tuesday that, according to their own investigations, civilians are killed in most operations conducted by US forces.

AIHRC expressed strong concern about the death of innocent Afghans during military operations and urged those responsible for the killings to face trial.

“According to our investigations, 98% of civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces in Afghanistan are intentional,” the head of the AIHRC, Lal Gul, said.

“The actions of the coalition forces, especially the American forces, are not only against the human rights laws, but are considered war crimes. Therefore, these forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan,” he said.

Foreign forces maintain that they try their best to minimise civilian casualties in their operations.

They also accuse the Taliban of using civilians as human shields by taking shelter in residential homes and areas.

A spokesman for the AIHRC, Nadir Nadiri, said: “Whenever a military force, or one of the two sides in a war, kill innocent people intentionally, it has broken the international human rights law, and according to the human rights law, such people must be tried.”

NATO and the US-led coalition have come under fire from Afghan politicians, ordinary people and the local media for killing innocent civilians in recent weeks.

On Monday, residents accused foreign troops of killing four members of the same family during a midnight raid in Kabul, a claim the international troops strongly deny.

On August 22, a coalition raid on a village in the western province of Herat killed as many as 90 civilians, 60 of them children, a United Nations investigation into the ground and air operation revealed.

Karzai, who has also chided western generals for their failure to minimise civilian casualties, says the death of innocent Afghans only plays into the hands of the Taliban, who use the killings to turn people against the government.

More than 500 civilians have been killed during operations led by foreign and Afghan forces against militants this year, according to the Afghan government and some aid groups.

The UN says the civilian death-toll has increased “sharply” this year on last.

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