Afghan police arrested three people and accused them of providing the false tip that led to last month’s disastrous US air strike in Herat Province which a UN investigation determined killed at least 90 civilians and strained ties between NATO forces and the Afghan government.
The US claimed to have targeted and killed a known militant commander in the strike along with 30 militants, but villagers insist that the information that led to the strike was provided to the US by a rival tribesman named Nader Tawakil, whom the US has placed under protective custody.
After the incident, the United States denied that civilians were killed and accused villagers who spoke of the higher death tolls of spreading “outrageous Taliban propaganda“. They continued their denials well after both the United Nations and several investigations by the Afghan government all found similar numbers of slain civilians, but promised to “review” its initial claims after a video emerged showing a large number of dead civilians in the village mosque in the wake of the attack.
A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the AP that the strike was the result of “total misinformation fed to the coalition forces,” and said the incident “was a total disaster, and it made it even worse when there were denials”.
NATO has attempted to repair ties with the Afghan government by announcing a joint probe, Shortly after the attack, the Afghan Council of Ministers called for a review of the presence of international forces and a status of forces agreement to curb the “aerial bombing and illegal detentions” by international forces. Afghan civilians have also expressed outrage at the dramatic increase in US air strikes in 2008, which have led to a large increase in the number of US-inflicted civilian deaths.