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CIVILIAN DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN

Civilian Deaths and Casualties from U.S. Attacks Are Increasing: Bomb from Lower Altitudes!

October 13, 2001

Confirmed reports of civilians being killed and injured in Afghanistan by U.S. bombs are increasing:

  • Four Afghan civilians who worked for a U.N.-supported mine-clearing program were killed by an errant U.S. bomb or missile.  The apparent target was a radio tower nearby, which had not been used for the last decade
  • An FA-18 fighter-bomber from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea mistakenly dropped a 2000 lb. bomb on a residential neighborhood in Kabul.  Preliminary reports said four people were killed and eight wounded.  The target was a military helicopter at the Kabul airport, one mile away.  Another report indicated that the bomb missed its target by a mile because a targeting coordinate was entered incorrectly into the bomb's satellite navigation system.
  • American bombers hit a village in the hills of eastern Afghanistan, with dozens of civilians apparently killed.  The assumed target was a guerrilla training camp nearby that villagers said had been closed for several years.

Even the mainstream U.S. press has noted that these episodes

are especially troublesome for Washington, which has tried to convey the message that its attacks against the Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban regime that shelters it are not aimed at the Afghan people or the Islamic world.

Civilian Deaths Cause Anger at United States

The people being killed, or more accurately, the survivors of such mistaken attacks, are apparently not going to distinguish between deaths from accidents and deaths from deliberate attacks.  As The New York Times reports:

Maulvi Abdullah Haijazi, an elder from a nearby village, had come to assist. "These people don't support the Taliban," he said. "They always say the Taliban are doing this or that and they don't like it.

"But now they will all fight the Americans. We pray to Allah that we have American soldiers to kill. These bombs from the sky we cannot fight."

This assessment is echoed by a commander in the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, referring to the bombing of the houses in Kabul:

Haji Qadir, a commander in the Northern Alliance in the southern part of Afghanistan... said the incident had undercut support for the American war effort among the Afghan people. "If the American infantry comes, I think the people will be against them," he said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has bragged that it now owns the skies over Afghanistan.  Maybe the time has come to stop high-altitude bombing near civilians and have the pilots venture lower so they can see what they are bombing, and thus ensure they only hit military targets.

If the U.S. continues to cause civilian deaths in an effort to keep our military pilots out of harm's way, that course of action could well cause us to lose some of our moral high ground in this conflict in the eyes of much of the world.

It would certainly do so in my eyes.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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