Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday said he was asking NATO to explain why innocent civilians were killed in a raid on the home of a former Afghan senator in the dark hours of Sunday morning in eastern Wardak province’s Chaki Wardak district.
Two of the three killed were women, according to NATO, and two other members of Sameh Jan Sherzad’s family were detained in the operation. Karzai’s statement demanded NATO explain what actionable intelligence it had that led to the raid on the former senator’s family.
The Obama administration has vastly expanded the execution of night raids throughout Afghanistan, making it a central strategy in the war in Afghanistan. Night raids have more than tripled under Obama, and they very often kill civilians, prompting almost constant demands from Karzai for accountability. Such demands have so far been slighted.
A recent report from the Open Society Foundation found that “an estimated 12 to 20 night raids now occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants.” And many of the associated tactics, like “mass detention operations, holding entire villages for questioning on site for prolonged periods of time,” may violate international law.
Senior commanders in Joint Special Operations Command, the units who typically carry out night raids, have admitted that raids target the wrong person 50 percent of the time. Another recent report from the Kandahar-based Afghanistan Analysts Network found that for every “leader” NATO killed in a night raid, they also killed eight others, including a large number of innocent bystanders.
NATO said it planned to “cooperate fully” with the Karzai’s request, and would fully “assess the incident.” NATO said the incident occurred while searching the area for a Haqqani network leader. NATO claims when the “compound” was approached and surrounded by soldiers a gun was pointed at them from a window, prompting troops to open fire. But such stories have often been exposed as fabrications to hide abuses.
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