Monday, March 12, 2012
Afghanistan killings: What happened remains unclear and many questions remain
The details of this incident are quite unclear but most accounts say that there was one lone gunman who left a base near Kandahar in the early hours of Sunday morning. Some accounts say around 3 AM.
How is it that this soldier apparently a sergeant was allowed out of the base alone and armed at this time of night? None of the accounts of the event explain this at all. Surely security would be tight at this base.
Some accounts talk of his leaving his command post at this time. Was the command post inside the base or outside the base or what exactly was he supposed to be doing? Again some accounts say that an Afghan soldier noticed his leaving the post and notified superiors. They then had a head count and found indeed that a soldier was missing and sent out a patrol.
According to some accounts he surrendered to this patrol as he was coming back to the base. According to other accounts he gave himself up when he got back to the base.
Many of the villagers reported that there were helicopters hovering over the area. A member of parliament said:The residents of Panjwai district in the volatile Kandahar province said they showed no resistance during the mass murder - because they have become used to regular night raids by both foreign and Afghan forces."We have learned that our houses will be searched at night, and we just cooperate," . A resident said: "Americans are always threatening us with dogs and helicopters during night raids."
A number of residents of the villages attacked say they saw more than one soldier during the shooting. Many reports omit such reports or simply note them in passing. An exception is this Reuters report. Here is a sample quote:""Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk."They were all drunk and shooting all over the place," said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place. ""
Other witnesses report only one the one soldier. Some have claimed that the two villages attacked were several kilometers apart. It is strange that after firing and killing in on village he was able to walk to another and start in again. Some have concluded that this shows there was more than one attacker.
Questions arise as to which observations are correct. The official line and mainstream headlines all spout the official correct version of one attacker.
An interesting sidelight is that the alleged attacker seems to be associated with the Green Berets or Navy Seals. These groups were on a village stabilization operation. These special operations troops pair with villagers and become in effect a sanctioned and armed neighborhood watch no doubt designed to intercept Taliban. I wonder if this had anything to do with the incident?
The whole affair is murky and no one seems to be clarifying anything but instead are propagating an official line that conflicts with a considerable amount of eyewitness testimony. Since the incident a NATO airstrike has killed three more civilians. See this article.