The massacre in the Do’ab district, Nuristan
In memory of and sympathy for
on Sunday, April 6, 2008
in the isolated villages of Payendeh Shawak and Baladeh Shawak in the Shawak Valley of the Do’ab district, western Nuristan Province about 15 kms north of the border with Laghman Province. In July 2007, the Taliban had captured the Do’ab and Mandol districts of Nuristan.
A day before the U.S. bombardments the planes were flying over Baladeh Shawak and Payandeh Shawak villages. Subsequently all armed men and young boys escaped in the mountains. During the surveillance of the planes, Maulvi Ghafoor, a commander of Hezb-e-Islami of Hekmatyar who is originally from Kantaiwa had also come to the village and he too, took refuge in the mountains. The next day the planes started bombarding without warning the old, women and children. As a result, the village of Payandeh Shawak turned to ashes. The houses of Nuristan are made of wood and are built on top of one another. During the bombardments, a missile hit a house and penetrated into three other houses, destroying all of them. People turned off the fire by throwing water to prevent an explosion, a lesson which they had learned during the war with Russians. This missile is still stuck in Noor-ul-din’s house since it was hit.
After the bombardment, a group of elders went to the nearby American military occupation base to protest, asking the reason for the attack when all of them got arrested as war prisoners. During their arrest, some gunshots came from the Balay Qowa Mountain and most of the captives managed to escape but the seven captives named above were taken to another place and are still accused of terrorists and imprisoned. A child was injured and was taken to a hospital.
Tamim Nuristani, the governor of Nuristan is a member of Jamiat-e-Islami (Rabbani’s party) and Maulvi Ghafoor, a member of Gulbuddin’s party are both the grandsons of Abdul Wakeel Khan and are from Kantaiwa. Tamim Nuristani donated some food items and clothes for the people of village but they refused saying, “Tell Tamim to distribute this in Kantaiwa. We don’t need it.”
The villages were intensely bombarded by U.S. warplanes while U.S.-led ground troops (of the Afghan 201st Kandak Company and the Afghan National Police) carried out a ground cordon-and-search assault upon the villages. A resident of Shok village (Shawak) told the independent Pajhwok Afghan News that U.S. helicopters had been fired-upon after which the U.S-led assault began. Heavy fighting lasting numerous hours ensued. As usual, U.S-Afghan soldiers called-in aerial close air support (CAS). Much of Shok village including the mosque was flattened. Yusuf Nuristani, a spokesman for the governor of Nuristan said that some 200 homes in the village of Myan-i-Tok village were badly damaged. 28-40 civilians including many women, elderly and children were slaughtered in the U.S. attack. Provincial officials confirmed these tolls to the Agence France Presse and the Deutsche Press Agentur (but the Associated Press showed little interest because civilians killed by the US/NATO occupation forces are “invisible” and unworthy of mention – if “we” killed them, they deserved it). On Monday, villagers were still digging out bodies from the rubble; 20 had been recovered and an expected 20 more were still to be located. The raiding forces also abducted 8 persons including an injured 12-year-old boy. Later, data gathered in the village of Payendeh Shawak confirmed 14 killed, 7 wounded, and seven men over 70 years of age from Baladeh were abducted to a fate unknown.
The ever-faithful Afghan mouthpiece of the Karzai Defense Ministry and the United States, Brigadier General Mohammed Zahir Azimi, proclaimed he had no confirmed information on civilian victims, but added that “numerous militants” (20) had been killed. U.S. news management said that the “militants” were members of the Hezb-i-Islami group. In January 2008, General Azimi had lambasted the BBC for “biased” reporting about civilian casualties in Helmand.
Days after the Do’ab attack, the US/Karzai propaganda machine even went so far as to assert that the strikes had (once again) killed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (he has been killed many times over if one were to believe the aforementioned news management teams). Hekmatyar was alleged to be meeting in Do’ab with one of his lieutenants, Kashmir Khan. For now over six years, the U.S. has bombed villages, homes, vehicles in decapitation strikes with little success other than killing lots of innocent Afghan civilians. In January 2002, I wrote about the failed campaign to hit Jalaluddin Haqqani (see http://www.cursor.org/stories/jalaluddin.htm), which however resulted in 38 dead civilians and the destruction of a mosque (note the resemblance with this “precision” decapitation strike).
Killed by heavy U.S. “precision” bombing