Saturday, March 2, 2013

Australian helicopter attack kills two Afghan children herding cattle

In a rare apology NATO admitted a helicopter fired on two boys herding cattle mistaking them for insurgents in Uruzgan province.
General Joseph Dunford said in a statement : "I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed....I am committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those we harmed, as well as for the community in which they lived."The children, aged seven and eight, were killed while herding cattle. Insurgents apparently had fired at the helicopter that shot the children.
There have been numerous incidents in which civilians are killed in air attacks called in when there is a conflict with Taliban fighters or other incidents. Here are a few examples:
13 Feb 2013: 10 people killed, including women and children, in a NATO air strike in Kunar province
14 Oct 12: Three civilians die during a NATO operation in Helmand province
6 Jun 12: 18 civilians killed in a NATO air strike in Logar province
Karzai has constantly complained when civilians are killed. The Taliban use them as an effective propaganda tool by collecting photos and video clips of the dead civilians and bombed villages to show the foreign troops as occupiers and killers of Afghans.
Apparently, the children were shot by Australian troops who had come under attack from the Taliban. The governor of Uruzgan, a central province, told AFP :"The children were killed by Australian troops, it was a mistaken incident, not a deliberate one." Following an incident last month the Afghan president barred Afghan forces from calling in air support during their operations. Apparently this was an Australian operation.
Previous deaths have resulted in demonstrations against the presence of foreign troops. Perhaps these deaths will cause similar protests. Most of the over 1500 Australian troops in Afghanistan are in Oruzgan province engaged in training Afghan forces.

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