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Monday, June 26, 2017

3 Afghan civilians killed after an IED hit a coalition vehicle

In Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan three civilians were killed after soldiers opened fire after a roadside bomb hit a vehicle according to Afghan officials.

A spokesperson for the governor of Nangarhar, Attaullah Khogyahi said that soldiers opened fire after the explosion. The US military said that none of its personnel had been wounded but claimed there was an exchange of gunfire after the explosion. Khogyahi said: "As the bomb blast hit their vehicle, the US troops starting shooting." He said the authorities were investigating the incident.The US military said it had no official report of civilian casualties. In a news release the US military said: “We take civilian casualties very seriously, and all allegations are thoroughly investigated.”
All six US soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year have been killed in Nangarhar Province while fighting the Islamic State (IS). On Saturday three were killed in an apparent insider attack as shown on the appended video. A Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed they had planted the bomb in the Ghanikhei district bordering an area which is a stronghold of the IS.
An Al Jazeera report gives more details of the incident claiming that an Afghan civilian and his two young sons were killed. Ziyar Gul, a brick kiln labourer was at work with two sons, one aged eight and the other ten when they came under fire witnesses claim. Witness Azizullah Aziz said: "As soon as the blast took place, the US troops started firing indiscriminately out of fear." He said a third son escaped the firing and ran for help but when he came back his father and two brothers were already dead. Relatives claim that other members of the Gul family had been killed in a raid last year. Neyaz Gul, brother of Ziyar said:"Could they not see that the people they [US troops] killed were children and an unarmed man? How could they fire directly at children and kill them? Their bodies were in bits and pieces after being shot numerous times.No one is held accountable for killing innocent people like this in Afghanistan."
Douglas High, a spokesperson for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that a roadside bomb had hit a convoy that was conveying both US and Afghan soldiers. He said that the soldiers used small arms in self-defence but that he had not received any official reports of civilian casualties.
A UN tally of civilian casualties in Afghanistan for 2016 was the worst year since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009. Casualties included 3,498 civilians killed and another 7,920 wounded. US special forces have been concentrating on fighting an estimated 600 to 800 IS fighters mostly in Nangarhar but some in Kunar province bordering Nangarhar.
There are now about 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan with a further 5,000 from NATO allies. US-led NATO troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since back in 2001 when the Taliban were toppled. Trump should soon decide what degree of increased involvement there will be for the US . Suggestions include 3,000 to 5,000 more troops including Special Operations forces who could carry out their own anti-terror operations. According to a recent Digital Journal article Trump will let the Pentagon decide on maximum troop levels.  As the appended video shows the US has suffered casualties at the hands of Afghan trainees.

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