NATO Kills At Least Four Civilians in Helmand Air Strike

Afghan Officials: Toll Expected to Rise

by Jason Ditz, April 06, 2010

The NATO problems with civilian killings in Afghanistan are much documented. So much embarrassment has been caused by the repeated, massive civilian tolls that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has ordered that no air strikes be called in unless they are certain that no civilians are in the area. The policy seems to be doing very little.

NATO is now promising a “review” of today’s incident, in which a NATO air strike killed at least four civilians, including two women and a small child, in the Helmand Province. Afghan officials say that it is likely the toll will rise.

Troops initially claimed that they came under fire from the compound, or near the compound, and that they were “unaware” of the civilians inside. Four adult men were also killed and immediately labeled “suspected insurgents,” though it is unclear how this determination was made.

The reliability of initial NATO statements on such incidents has been very much thrown into doubt this week, after a Sunday admission that the February “firefight” with insurgents and the “gruesome discovery” of slain pregnant women was completely untrue, that the troops killed Afghan government employees and pregnant women and attempted to cover it up by blaming “insurgents.”

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