In memory of 

 

At least 57-136 civilians killed including 18 women and children, and Jamal Mirzai’s 12 relatives,
Mohammed’s 10 relatives.
Over 50 civilians injured

killed during April 27-29, 2007

in three villages (including the villages of Pomakan and Bakht which were bombed, destroying 8 homes and burying numerous inhabitants) in the Zerkoh Valley of the Shindand District of Herat Province. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission reported over 100 homes had been destroyed; Iran’s IRIN news agency estimated that 1,600 families had been displaced. Even the Herat police chief, Mohammad Shafiq Fazli, told the Agence France Presse that an investigation had revealed over 50 dead civilians (he will likely soon no more be police chief!). Another recent estimate by the independent journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad of the Asia Times (June 6, 2007)  of the dead civilians gave a figure of 136.An injured man brought to the main hospital in Herat said he was injured by an aerial attack that did not hit any insurgents: “there were no Taliban. Ten of my relatives have been killed including two of my cousins.” Religious figures in Herat spoke with Agence France Presse (the Associated Press was apparently uninterested). Mullah Ghulam Sakhi of the Khirqa Sharif mosque said, “The Americans are like the Russians. The Russians used to kill women and children and Americans do he same. Jihad is a must against them.” Mullah Ali Azghar Rohani stated, “Though the Americans try to show a good face, the killing of innocent people,  women, children and other atrocities they commit, show their real faces.”

Predictably, the U.S. occupation force’s central command said it had no reports of civilians dying in the fighting and proclaimed that 136 Taliban fighters had been killed – a report which could not be independently confirmed. Fighting broke out in the Zerkoh Valley as U.S. troops raided compounds and occupation forces called-in close air support (including a deadly AC-130 aerial gunship). Residents of the bombed area said civilians were killed in the bombardment and that some had drowned in a river as they fled. Homes were broken into at night by the U.S. Special forces, angering residents.  Demonstrations later broke out in the area with protesters burning an effigy of Bush.  The incident in Shindand was yet another psy-war victory for he Taliban. During the week of May 1st hundreds of protesters poured into the streets of Shindand, chanting “Death to America.” The photos show some of he injured victims.The air assault involved U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15E fighters (which dropped GPS-guided 2,000 and 500 lb bombs) as well as an AC-130 gunship used to strafe with its Gatling cannon. As in the wedding massacre of July 21, 2002, in wich an AC-130 Special Operations gunship was employed, the result was a major massacre (for details of the wedding slaughter, see my detailed accoun at   http://www.cursor.org/stories/kakarak.htm ).

The independent journalist Shahzad wrote the following after a visit to the bombed area:

(when we arrived)…a traditional tribal council was in session. It was full of elders and with relatives of those killed in the NATO bombardment. "Every time our opponents, especially Ismail Khan, spread stories that Shindand is full of Pakistanis and Chechens - but with no evidence - NATO carries out a bombardment, and those who are killed are Afghans. "The governor of neighboring Farah province does not have control in his area and he always blames Shindand as a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaeda activities. But we always question this, 'If there are al-Qaeda or Pakistani fighters in Shindand, why do NATO troops not show their bodies?'" Nasru said. "The last time they bombed villages in our district we asked for the reason. They named Mullah Akhtar Mohammed as Taliban and active in the area. But Mullah Akhtar is an ordinary person and has nothing to do with the Taliban. Of course, there were many Taliban living in our area, but now they have left the Taliban movement. But calling them Taliban and bombing them will serve no purpose; instead, it will complicate the situation," Nasru said. Nasru's village of Kosh, about 7 kilometers from the main bombing site of Bakht village, was also hit, including his house and a school built by an Italian reconstruction team. "Now the government admits that 57 among the dead were civilians, but it refuses to compensate their families. Only the International Committee of the Red Cross provided some aid," Nasru said. At this point an elderly man jumped up, brandishing two identity cards issued by the Election Commission of Afghanistan. "They were my relatives. They were killed in this incident and said to be Taliban. But if they were Taliban, they could not have been registered on the election list, because the Taliban are strictly forbidden from registering for voting." Nasru continued. "You know, we are loyal to President Hamid Karzai's government, but our opponents settle their scores against us through NATO. Sometimes they blame us for growing poppy, but you can see there is none. And sometimes they blame us for harboring Pakistani and Chechen fighters, but they never succeed in proving their presence here, dead or alive." A visibly angry tribal elder picked up on the implicit threat in Nasru's comments: "I tell you one thing, that resentment against NATO is growing among us. They suddenly conduct raids in our areas and do not care about the sanctity of our homes. The next time this happens, I will declare war against them." Haji Bismal, a middle-aged villager, continued the theme. "NATO has a bizarre explanation for everything. Once they arrested some people from our area and took them to Bagram base [near Kabul]. They were asked to recite some verses from the Koran. When they did, they were declared as Taliban. "I tell you, the Soviet army was far better than the Americans. At least they used to warn us before an attack to withdraw our families and children. NATO does not care about anything, and it bombs an area without caring about women and children. You will have seen our devastated homes; what relation do we have with any fighting or with the Taliban?"
 

Killed by U.S Special Forces and U.S war planes (including an AC-130 aerial gunship).

 

Summary comment: The Italian-based Uruknet website provides a cogent summary of which bodies get officially counted in Afghanistan:

Once again the US military has massacred a large number of civilians in the occupied territories. 51 Afghan villagers were killed (in intense U.S. bombing and U.S. Special Forces ground attacks in Herat Province during April 27-29, 2007).  Many of them women and children. Of course the Pentagon denies any knowledge of any wrong doing - as they always do, until a whistle blower comes forward. Those denials work on American TV, because the Pentagon statements are repeated verbatim by the US media, thus ensuring that American audiences never know what is true and what is not. The media doesn’t bother to check whether those Pentagon denials are actually true or not, they just repeat them word for word and call that journalism. And republican sheep are trained that one must always believe their own government. They would never lie to us, would they? So if some foreign "ragheads" claim their women and children were massacred, and a Pentagon spokesperson says it didn’t happen, of course we should believe the Pentagon, not the ragheads, right? Unfortunately the past few years have shown time and time again that the foreigners’ story is usually far more credible that the claims of some government spokesman. Remember when Bush and co claimed that Saddam had WMD but Saddam insisted that he did not? Bush lied, and Saddam told the truth. Remember the staged media event surrounding Saddam’s statue? Remember all those lies surrounding Tillman’s death? Remember those lies about Jessica Lynch? The families of Tillman and Lynch went to Capitol Hill, trying to expose Pentagon lies. There have been countless incidents in which large groups of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan were murdered by US troops. The Pentagon officially denies them almost all the time. Only the rarest of instances get exposed - like Haditha.


When impossible to deny, the U.S. military announces its own “investigation” and the puppet in Kabul on cue makes noises about civilian casualties being unacceptable. Within a week, all is forgotten and the brutal US/NATO grinds on.