US warplanes pounded the village of Shigal in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan today, destroying several houses in the course of a “support” operation that NATO officials bragged led to the deaths of two “senior Taliban leaders.” The village was just miles from the Pakistan border.
Provincial officials checked the houses, however, and found a grim consequence of the bombing campaign: a large number of women and children within were killed and injured beneath the rubble of their homes. 11 children in all were reported killed, and one woman. Several other women were badly wounded.
The official narrative surrounding the story is still nebulous, because while NATO insists that no NATO ground troops were involved in the raids, they also claimed it was NATO troops that had called in the strikes after “coming under attack.” A Kunar MP suggested there were no ground troops at all in the area, and that it was considered a “Taliban stronghold” which is why the attacks occurred.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly banned NATO air strikes against populated areas, and has also banned Afghan forces from requesting air support if they are attacked in an area where civilians might be impacted. The bans appear to be having little to no impact, however.
The US has yet to respond to the killings, while NATO says only that they are “aware” on the incident and will conduct some sort of assessment. Such assessments have rarely amounted to anything, however, with after the fact statements, if they come at all, insisting the Taliban are to blame for whoever the US bombs in the course of trying to kill Taliban fighters.