Afghan government officials today confirmed that an overnight NATO shooting in the Khost Province left four students, one of them as young as 11 years old, dead. The Afghan Education Ministry confirmed that all four were students, but other reports suggest the eldest, an 18 year old, may have been working as a police officer as well.
NATO confirmed the shooting but was quick to insist that two of the children were “known insurgents” and the other two were “suspected insurgents.” Initial claims said the attack came at a “checkpoint” but later it was revealed the vehicle was on the open road and simply hadn’t stopped when a military convoy flashed its lights at them.
At the same time, both NATO and the Khost Provincial police confirmed that none of the students were armed, meaning the attack was just the latest in a long series of virtually random attacks by NATO convoys against vehicles that happen to be traveling on the same road.
The attack brings to mind a similar story from only a week ago, in which US forces attacked a busload of civilians in Kandahar Province for the same reason: they were traveling on the same road in the opposite direction and didn’t pull off the road fast enough. NATO’s own figures show the number of civilians they have killed so far in 2010 dramatically dwarfs the number they killed in the same period of 2009.