Anger over Deaths of Children in Recent Afghan Spec Ops Raid

This case needs resolution--it is beginning to stink--if there was a screw-up (in terms of the actions on the ground--the actions since then already are screwed up apparently), those involved need to be held publicly accountable--in accordance with all applicable legal procedures.

Hunt down the spy behind deaths of our children, say Afghan night raid survivors

Top row, left to right: Atiqullah, 15, Attahullah, 15, Ismael, 12, Matiullah, 16. Bottom row, left to right: Samiullah, 12, Rahimullah, 17, Sebhanullah, 17 and guest Samar Gul, 12

Top row, left to right: Atiqullah, 15, Attahullah, 15, Ismael, 12, Matiullah, 16. Bottom row, left to right: Samiullah, 12, Rahimullah, 17, Sebhanullah, 17 and guest Samar Gul, 12

Jerome Starkey in Kabul

The survivors of a night raid in eastern Afghanistan in December that left ten people dead, including eight schoolboys from one family, have still not received compensation and investigators are no closer to arresting the gunmen involved.

President Karzai’s security chiefs demanded that the raiders face trial, while local officials promised to arrest the informant, or informants, who fed covert US and Afghan forces false information before the assault.

“We are following the case,” said the provincial police chief, Khalilullah Zaiea. “But we still don’t know the exact team of Americans involved, so we can’t identify the spy.”

The pre-dawn raid, on December 27, prompted angry protests across Afghanistan. Children as young as 10 burned effigies of President Obama and chanted “death to America”.

Samiullah Miakhel, 60, one of the organisers, said: “Afghan blood is human blood. The Americans are just all the time killing civilians.”

No one has admitted responsibility for the operation. US forces stationed near by denied any knowledge or involvement. Nato’s top legal adviser told The Times that US forces were present but not leading the operation.

Senior officers in Kabul hinted that the “trigger-pullers” were Afghan. One official said that the force was “non-military”.

Mark Sedwill, Nato’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said that Nato was “still looking into the final details” of the incident and would give its judgment soon.

“In the end, for us any number of civilian casualties is too high,” he said, adding that the slow pace of the current Operation Moshtarak in Helmand was due to the added care being taken not to inflict such casualties.

None of that is much comfort to the families of the dead.

“We still haven’t received any money,” said Farooq Abul Ajan, who lost two sons, two brothers, three nephews and a cousin in the raid. “But we don’t want any money. We want the Government to arrest the spy and to arrest the people who killed our sons.”

An Afghan man was sentenced to death for spying in 2009, after giving American Special Forces information that led to an air strike in which nearly 100 civilians were killed, but no foreign troops have ever faced trial under Hamid Karzai’s rule.

Nato maintains that the gunmen who killed ten people in Narang district in December were not part of the International Security Assistance Force, while America’s Special Operations Task Force, based at Bagram Air Field, refused to comment on the allegations that the victims were innocent schoolchildren.

Assadullah Wafa, a special adviser to President Karzai who led the original investigation, said the relatives would receive $2,000 (£1,300) for each of the victims after Nato admitted that it was a “civilian casualty incident”.

Originally the coalition claimed that a “joint assault force” was shot at when it entered Ghazi Khan village in a remote and mountainous part of Kunar Province, close to the Pakistan border. The Times disclosed yesterday, however, that officials now admit that the children were enrolled in a local school.

“Knowing what we know now, it would probably not have been a justifiable attack,” an official in Kabul said.

A damning report on night raids by the Open Society Institute warned that the lack of accountability among covert forces was fuelling discontent.

“Afghans often find it difficult to identify which forces were involved in a given incident,” the report warned.

Local officials said a general from Bagram Air Field visited Narang soon after the raid. Assadullah Wafa said the raiders flew to Kunar from Kabul. A local police source said they thought they flew from Jalalabad, the main city in eastern Afghanistan.

In May 2008 Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, criticised international forces for their unwillingness or inability to identify which international units were involved in military operations.

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