In memory of and sympathy for
2-20 civilians killed
4-8 others wounded
from midnight to 10 AM (local time) on July 17, 2008
in the villages of Parmakan, Farmakan and Bakhtabad of Zerkoh Valley in the Shindand district, Herat Province. Survivors of the night-time air raid which destroyed three homes reported that local people had resisted U.S. Special Forces 7th Group (Airborne) and Afghan Kandak troops breaking into homes and searching women’s rooms. The U.S. occupation troops killed Haji Nasrullah Khan, an important local tribal leader and Haji Dawlat Khan, their 2 children (=civilians), as well as some 20 other civilians. Tribal elder, Haji Zalmai, and the Shindand district chief, Lal Muhammad, confirmed the civilian killings. A villager who brought his wounded uncle to the hospital in the nearby town of Shindand said planes bombed their village of Parmakan and two other places, causing many of the villagers to panic and flee. Many were killed and wounded as they fled on motorbikes and on foot away from the village, he said by telephone. The villager, Zalmai, 31, a shopkeeper, said eight other wounded people were brought to the Shindand hospital, including women and children. He said that more wounded were still lying under the rubble or in the open and that the soldiers were not letting villagers reach them.
At least four civilians – two children, a man and a woman – were treated in a Herat hospital (photo below). Predictably, a NATO spokesman promulgated, “All indicators were that (the operation) had been successful with a number of insurgents killed and no reports of civilian casualties.” NATO later added that “two Taliban leaders” had been killed: Dawlat Khan and Nasrullah Khan. Locals however said the two men were popular community leaders in the fiercely independent Zerkoh Valley area.
The Associated Press’ Amir Shah echoed the Pentagon spin that U.S. Special Forces and Afghan troops called in close air support which killed “15 insurgents,” part of a “militant cell.” FOX news dutifully reprinted the AP account. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead, on the other hand, headlined his wire report “US Afghan bombing ‘kills dozens’.” Iran’s Press TV headlined “US air raids kill dozens of Afghan civilians.” Australia’s ABC News similarly headlined “Dozens of Civilians Killed in Nato Strike in Afghanistan.” The independent Pajhwok Afghan News headline was “ISAF airstrikes kill 50 civilians in Herat.”
The photos below show “insurgents” (boys), part of a militant cell, being treated in a hospital in Herat:
HERAT, July 17, 2008. 50 civilians were killed and many residential houses were destroyed on Wednesday night in coalition air strike in Shindand district of western Herat province. The young boy was wounded in the U.S. bombardment. PAJHWOK/Ahmad Quraishi.
Wounded or killed in a night-time, ten-hour US/NATO bombing assault
Postscript: In late April 2007, U.S war planes bombed the Zerkoh Valley region. Between 27 and 29 April U.S Special Forces (again!) fighting with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police killed more than 130 Taliban fighters in the Shindand district, a US military press release reported. During the engagement a coalition aircraft bombed targets and an AC-130 gunship was also called in. According to the military press release “there were no civilian casualties reported”. However, the government of Afghanistan and the United Nations has confirmed reports which say more than 45 civilians, including women and children, died as a result of US military operation in Shindand. On Tuesday a UNAMA assessment team visited the area to investigate what UN Spokesman Adrian Edwards described as “possible indiscriminate use of force and possible civilian displacement”. Edwards says the UN believes figures of up to 49 civilian deaths, including 18 women, are credible. Others say the figure could be higher; according to the AIHRC "about 60 civilians have been killed in the air raids". Bahauddin, a resident of Shindand, said "more than 100 people have been killed all of whom are civilians". IRIN cannot confirm these reports. Further details and photos on the Zerkoh slaughter may be seen at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/world/asia/13AFGHAN.html?_r=1&oref=slogin and at http://www.elperiodico.com/print.asp?idpublicacio_PK=46&idnoticia_PK=402126&idioma=CAT&h=070503
The following photo displays what the U.S. military called a “Taliban fighter” in Zerkoh:
At the time, Alastair Leithead wrote,
BBC News, Afghanistan, May 31, 2007
Mohammad Zarif Achakzai and his wife lost their son
Each time the old woman breathed out you could hear a small groan of pain as she sat, her head in one hand, her other shoulder shattered by shrapnel and fixed in a coarse plaster.
Her son Mohammad and his wife Khwara sat next to her - they were mourning the death of their 18-year-old son and her brother.
Both were among 57 killed - almost half of them women and children - when American forces bombed their village in Shindand, western Afghanistan, and destroyed 100 homes."The bombardments were going on day and night," said Mohammad Zarif Achakzai, who had to flee their mud house in the Zerkoh Valley.