Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 24, 2009


Al Jazeera - A claim by US forces in Afghanistan that they killed 15 Taliban fighters in the eastern province of Laghman, has been disputed by village elders. A US statement said on Saturday that soldiers killed the fighters after coming under fire from opposition fighters. But the elders say all those who died were civilians.

"The operation in Mehtar Lam District, approximately 60km northeast of Kabul City, targeted a Taliban commander believed to conduct terrorist activities throughout the Kabul, Laghman and Kapisa provinces," a US military statement said. "As coalition forces approached the wanted militant's compound, several groups of armed militants exited their homes and began maneuvering on the force."

Nine fighters were killed by small-arms fire and four killed by "precision close-air support", the statement said, adding that two other fighters were killed during a subsequent serach of the houses in the compound.

But Abdul Rahmzai, head of the provincial council in Laghman, said village elders had told him in the hours after the raid that those killed were civilians.

Rahmzai relayed questions from the Associated Press news agency to the village elders directly, who responded by saying that swear on the Quran that all those killed were innocent. They said that women and children were among the dead, and told Rahmzai that they have no link to Taliban fighters.

Independent assessment by journalists and human-rights monitors of the competing claims is complicated by the level of danger in the territory to unarmed outsiders.

While Afghan villagers have been accused of inflating civilian death claims to receive more compensation, the US military has in the past been charged with not fully acknowledging the deaths of civilians due to its raids.

In the immediate wake of a battle in August in the village of Azizabad, the US military said no civilians were killed. Eventually a US investigation found that 33 civilians had been killed in that raid.

The Afghan government and the UN said that 90 civilians died in the incident.

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, said last week that the US and countries serving in the NATO military alliance are continuing air raids in civilian areas, despite his call for them to stop.

Kabul recently sent NATO headquarters a draft agreement that would give Afghanistan more control over future Nato deployments in the country.

The draft also says that NATO troops should no longer conduct searches of Afghan homes. . .

In all, US military planners are expected to deploy a total of 30,000 extra troops to the country in the next 12 to 18 months, reflecting the emphasis that Barack Obama, the US president, is putting on the war in Afghanistan.

Deja Vu All Over Again

NY Times, September 16, 2003 - American-led forces fighting in the south called in airstrikes on a group of militants in the province of Kandahar, killing 15 suspected Taliban, a military spokesman said. A statement, issued from the United States headquarters at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, said the strikes were part of Operation Mountain Viper, begun more than a week ago to tackle the growing Taliban insurgency in the south and southeast of the country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

if obama prosecutes bush and co., he will already have to prosecute himself

January 25, 2009 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if obama prosecutes bush and co., he will already have to prosecute himself

January 25, 2009 9:20 AM  

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