Moral Low Ground

War & Peace

NATO Air Strike Slaughters 14 Afghans, Including 11 Children

It’s happened again. A NATO air strike in southern Afghanistan has killed 14 civilians, including two women and 11 children ages two to seven.

The latest slaughter of innocents comes just a few days after NATO forces “mistakenly” killed 18 civilians and 20 friendly police officers in Nuristan in the northeast.

According to the New York Times, the air attack followed the killing of a US Marine in an ambush on a foot patrol by a group of five insurgents. Reuters reports that NATO had “unwittingly” targeted a home because insurgents were believed to be using it as a base.

“Unfortunately, the compound the insurgents purposefully occupied was later discovered to house innocent civilians,” US Major General John Toolan, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in southwestern Afghanistan said.

But relatives of the dead children dispute Toolan’s claim.

“My house was bombarded in the middle of the night and my children were killed,” Noor Agha told Reuters. “The Taliban were far away from my home, why was my house bombed?”

This latest slaughter of innocent Afghan civilians by NATO-led forces has once again infuriated the Afghan people and President Hamid Karzai. Grieving relatives of those killed carried the bodies of the little children to Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, in protest.

President Karzai condemned the attack and reminded US and NATO troops that their “arbitrary and unnecessary operations” were killing innocent people “every day.” He called the latest tragedy “a big mistake.” He also ordered his Defense Ministry to assume control of night raids, which are effective means of hunting down and killing insurgents but also result in an alarming number of civilian deaths.

Karzai had strong words of warning for the US and NATO, saying that the coalition risks being seen as an occupying force if civilian casualties continue. The Afghan President implied that his people would turn on the invaders and defeat them as they have defeated every aggressor throughout centuries of history.

The violence in Afghanistan only promises to get worse; the traditional Taliban spring offensive is under way and the Islamic militants showed they mean business by attacking the city of Herat, which is in the west not far from the Iranian border and far from their usual operating area.

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