Two days ago on this blog we reported the death of over 70 Afghan civilians in US air strikes when a US led coalition force supposedly attacked Taliban militants. The American military denied killing any civilians but yesterday, President Karzai admitted civilians had been killed and order the sacking of two key military officers. The officers were dismissed for their involvement in “irresponsible” military operations in western Afghanistan. An Afghan human rights group which visited the scene said at least 76 civilians died although the latest Ministry of Interior figure is 78 including at least 50 children. Originally, US reports were 25 militants had been killed as well as five civilians. The US military will investigate the incident. One wonders if they will also investigate deliberate lying on the part of officers in charge of providing information.
As we noted the other day, reports of killing “militants” by planes flying at hundreds of miles an hour proved impossible during the Vietnam war and are equally invalid today in describing air strike casualties. There will always be terrible mistakes when air power substitutes for on the ground operations.