Moral Low Ground


NATO Airstrike Kills Afghan Mother and Her 5 Children; Separate Coalition Strike Kills Up To 14 More Civilians in Bala Murghab

Victims of a February NATO airstrike in Kapisa province, which killed 8 children and a mentally disabled adult.

A NATO airstrike in Afghanistan has killed a mother and her five children.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the deadly attack happened last Friday in the Sangin district, in the southern part of the country, during heavy fighting between coalition occupation forces and Afghan resistance fighters.

Taliban fighters reportedly repeatedly attacked checkpoints in the village of Payan; coalition troops returning fire then inadvertently struck a civilian home, killing the family.

The Washington Post reports that NATO is planning to deliver a formal apology to the family within the next couple of days.

“At this point in the investigation, we are able to confirm the incident and will be formally apologizing in the next couple of days to the family,” NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Stewart Upton said. “We are deeply saddened by any civilian deaths, and particularly regret incidents where civilians are killed as a result of actions by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force).”

The Post also reports that a separate NATO airstrike in the Bala Murghab, Badghis province killed as many as 14 innocent civilians on Sunday. The exact death toll is not yet known, but Dilbar Jan Arman, the provincial governor, confirmed that many civilians had indeed been killed.

Three NATO occupation troops were also killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, according to the Los Angeles Times.

There was also heavy fighting between Afghan government forces and resistance fighters as the latter attacked government buildings in Sharan, Paktika province, which is close to the Pakistani border.

Civilian casualties– coalition forces have killed thousands of innocent Afghans over the course of the decade-long war and occupation– have been a highly contentious issue which have greatly complicated US and NATO efforts to “win the hearts and minds” of Afghanistan’s war-weary population. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly slammed the US and NATO for the unacceptably high number of innocent civilian deaths, although the number of innocents killed has decreased in recent years and the vast majority of deaths are attributable to the Taliban.

Karzai, who summoned NATO commander Gen. John Allen and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to his Kabul  palace to discuss civilian deaths, issued a statement in which he said that the recently-signed strategic pact between the US and Afghanistan is at risk of becoming “meaningless” if Afghans don’t feel safe from accidental yet deadly NATO attacks in their own country.

“Karzai signed the strategic pact with the United States to avoid such incidents (civilian casualties) and if Afghans do not feel safe, the strategic partnership loses its meaning,” the statement read.

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