A May 14 night raid in the remote Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan continues to be a source of consternation for locals, most notably members of the family which lost nine members that evening to US troops.
The US had initially said that only one person in the house, a suspected militant, was targeted, but quickly decided that every single person killed was a terrorist. So far no evidence has been provided to support that claim.
At the time the killing sparked a massive protest which itself led to the death of at least one civilian killed when local police opened fire on the crowd. The local security forces claimed they were not informed of the US raid.
Though Gen. Stanley McChrystal had at one point promised to end the practice of night raids, Pentagon officials have taken to defending not just the Nangarhar killings but the principle of raiding civilian homes in the middle of the night, claiming that in most cases, no shots are even fired.
But while only a handful of the hundreds of night raids have led to the deaths of large numbers of civilians, they have provided some of the ugliest storylines of the war, including the killing of two pregnant women in the mistaken raid of the home of a local policeman and then a failed coverup which attempted to blame the family for the killings.
Even when the raids go “peacefully,” they have sparked considerable resentment among the Afghan population, which still hasn’t come to terms with a permanent occupation in which foreign troops can raid their homes on flimsy pretexts with impunity.