In what is just the latest in a growing string of recent allegations of NATO forces killing civilians, local villagers in the Garmsir District, Helmand Province said they came out to protest against a reported raid in a nearby town when a NATO patrol arrived on the scene. The villagers say NATO forces opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 13 civilians and wounding dozens.
NATO officials denied the incident, but issued a perplexing statement that simultaneously insisted the forces didn’t fire a single shot while lauding them for opening fire on a sniper on the scene. The local police confirmed the killings, but speculated that the apparently unarmed protesters might have secretly been Taliban.
“The Taliban were provoking the people,” noted Helmand’s deputy police chief, insisting that protesters had overturned cars and raided a building belonging to an Afghan spy agency. The police insisted that it was actually Afghan forces that were with NATO who initially opened fire and that they were still looking into the identities of the slain.
In the town of Now Zad, also in the Helmand Province, US drones killed 13 other apparently unarmed people when they fired a Hellfire missile at what officials are calling a “crowd of suspects.”
The incident came just hours after US General Richard Mills insisted that the United States has claimed victory in the Helmand Province, and that the Taliban are “defeated.”