After Insider Attack, US Airstrikes Kill 14 Afghan Civilians

US officials blame Taliban for 'hiding' among civilians

An alleged Afghan Taliban insider attack in the Kunduz Province has led to a much large incident in which US airstrikes tore through civilian homes nearby, killing at least 14 civilians, overwhelmingly women and children.

Early Saturday morning, a joint US-Afghan convoy ran afoul of fighters at a military checkpoint. A US vehicle broke down near the checkpoint, and when the troops got out, one of the soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire. Afghan officials say the soldier was a Taliban infiltrator. Either way, he started a protracted exchange of fire.

At which point the US forces did what they always do, called in air support. At that point US warplanes attacked what the Pentagon is describing as a “Taliban base,” but which could be more accurately described as a cluster of nearby homes. 14 civilians were killed, mostly women and children.

US officials defended the incident, claiming the troops on the ground detected fire from that direction, and accusing the Taliban of hiding within the homes. It is unclear if any Taliban were involved in the airstrike, or involved at all beyond the claim of a single infiltrator. For US and Afghan forces to get into an unrelated firefight on their own is not unusual.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.