Silver Lining

Food for thought

US soldiers killing, torturing civilians in Afghanistan

by Batoul Wehbe, Al Manar

Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke out for the first time Wednesday about the “heart-rending” media accounts of a rogue US army unit accused of deliberately killing civilians for sport.

In his first public reaction to the scandal, Hamid Karzai said he wanted to ensure ordinary Americans knew about a rogue army unit “kill team” accused of murdering Afghan civilians and mutilating their corpses.

Karzai said in a speech to a group of newly-qualified teachers in Kabul he was disturbed by the accounts in US media of American soldiers deliberately killing children and elderly Afghans who posed no threat to them.

“I want the ordinary American people to hear my voice and to know that Afghans old and young are being oppressed in their name.”

Rolling Stone magazine this week published a series of graphic images and a long story including extensive detail of the actions of the American soldiers. The story related how a teenage farm worker was picked out in January last year as the first victim of a drug-addled rogue unit that slaughtered Afghan civilians in the explosive Kandahar region early last year.

Two soldiers initially threw a grenade at the teenager before gunning him down, and pretending the youth had attacked them with the grenade.

With his body on the floor events took an even more sinister turn as one soldiers started ‘messing around with the kid’, moving his arms and mouth and ‘acting like the kid was talking’.

He then took a pair of medic’s scissors and snipped off the boy’s pinky finger and handed it to another soldier as a trophy for his first kill in Afghanistan.

In the following months they and others staged a number of such killings, according to the Rolling Stone account, citing witnesses questioned by military investigators after the killings were revealed by a fellow soldier.

The investigation by Rolling Stone also revealed how:
• Troops shot dead civilians and tried to cover their tracks;
• U.S. soldiers hacked off part of a dead man’s skull;
• Soldiers cheered as they filmed a U.S. airstrike blowing up two Afghan civilians;
• A video showed two Afghans on a motorcycle being gunned down.

“I read all nine pages last night. It was a heart-rending story,” said Karzai. “May God punish them.”

The US military has apologised for the distress caused by the pictures, which recall the notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse images from Iraq.

In the meantime, the US-led NATO occupation force in Afghanistan said Wednesday an airstrike “accidentally” killed two children and two women in the south of the country.

Afghan authorities at the weekend said that seven civilians, three of them children were killed in a NATO air strike in Helmand province.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which conducted the attack said it had launched a probe after the allegations of civilian deaths in a raid aimed at two vehicles in the province’s Sangin district.

On Thursday the force said its joint assessment with Afghan authorities of the incident found that four civilians, two children and as many women were “mistakenly” killed in the attack.

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One response to “US soldiers killing, torturing civilians in Afghanistan

  1. kate bates April 1, 2011 at 5:30 am

    “The US military has apologised for the distress caused by the pictures, which recall the notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse images from Iraq.”

    How about apologising for the murders with a promise to hold those responsible, all the way up the chain of command, accountable in an Afghanistan Court of Law or Loya Jurga?

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