Tag Archives: Air strike

Death In The Afternoon In Afghanistan

American military leaders in Afghanistan have urged over the past few months that air strikes should not be used to deal with military action that best could be handled on the ground. This policy is designed to minimize civilian casualties and maintain good relations with Afghan civilians. A few days ago, the Taliban stole two oil tankers, which most probably were going to be used in a suicide attack. However, the t ankers got stuck in mud while trying to cross a river. The Taliban offered free oil to any local villagers and soon the area was swarming with civilians. German soldiers were stationed in this area of Afghanistan, and their commanding officer decided the stalled tankers somehow constituted a threat and called in an air strike.

The air strike resulted in the death of about 90 people, most of whom were civilians. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, defended the air strike. He expressed regret for civilian deaths, but insisted, “at the sam time it was clear our soldiers were in danger. Consequently, I stand clearly behind our commander’s decision” to have the area bombed.

US military leaders believe German troops should first have been dispatched to the area and calling in an air strike while a few hundred civilians are in the scene is not the way to win the hearts of Afghans.

Perhaps, the real issue is lack of faith among Germans that the Afghanistan war makes any sense.

To Bomb Or Not Bomb In Afghanistan?

The ongoing debate concerning use of air strikes against the Taliban once again created problems in Afghanistan. Taliban forces hijacked two fuel tankers which they probably wanted to use as part of a suicide attack on a German army base. As the Taliban drove the trucks away they became stuck in mud as they attempted crossing a river. The Taliban told local villagers they could come to the immobilized tankers and take as much oil as they desired. Afghan government sources said about 70 people were killed with NATO planes blasted the tankers and only a few were civilians.

Local figures on death range from 70 to 90 and they claim only about 30 of the dead were militants. German troops reached the area several hours after the air strike and refused to allow any members of the media to accompany them on the mission.

The reality is we probably will never receive an accurate figure on civilian death totals. However, there is no question civilians died in the air strike.

Local officials have a somewhat different version of the attack.

Massacre Of Afghan Civilians In Bombing Raid

It was another fight at close quarters in Afghanistan between US/Coalition forces and the Taliban. The fighting became fierce and a decision was made to call in an air strike at the insurgents. According to a spokesman: “there was an insurgent attack on an ANA group and the ANA called for assistance, ands some coalition troops joined them to help fight this group. There was close air support.” Unfortunately, in the hectic struggle, an air strike when there are civilians in the vicinity always carries the risk of mistakes. In this case, the mistake was massive. Afghan officials estimate at least thirty and maybe up to a hundred civilians died in the air strike on Bala Baluk, a Taliban controlled area in Farah province near the border with Iran.

There are reports villagers bought truckloads of bodies, many of them women and children to the provincial capital. One report indicated civilians had gone to the village of Gerani to escape the fighting and then were bombed as they sheltered in what they thought was a safe area.

There will be an investigation, an apology, and compensation for families of the dead. The basic issue is there are insufficient Afghan, US and Coalition forces to keep fighting on the ground. Each air strike carries with it the danger of another massacre of the innocent.

Being Bush Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mehmood Qureshi, blasted the United States air strike which killed eleven Pakistan soldiers in the border region of the northwest. he termed the US attack ‘is a blatant and willful negation of the sacrifices Pakistan has made on the war against terrorism.” He told visiting NATO secretary general, Jaap de Hop Scheffer of his nation’s anger at the “senseless attack by the United States-led coalition forces.” Naturally, as a good diplomat, Scheffer said it was truly “regrettable and that an inquiry was being conducted.”

The American response has been typical Bush like in its refusal to admit a mistake. Admiral Mullen said the operation as “executed in accordance with procedures and that it was very much by the book.” A spokesperson for the State Department said the United States still did not have sufficient evidence that eleven Pakistan soldiers really were killed but if they were America would be “saddened” by the loss of life.

The NATO secretary general just admitted his sorrow and accepted the Pakistan version that eleven soldiers were dead, but George Bush has a difficult time saying American made a mistake. These mistakes occur and intelligent leaders simply accept responsibility, offer apologies and conduct an investigation.