Wednesday, September 3, 2008

'US troops are committing war crimes'

'US troops are committing war crimes'

Written by Parwiz Shamal

Afghan rights group accuses foreign troops of deliberately killing civilians

AN AFGHAN human rights organisation has accused the United States army of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) said on Tuesday that, according to their own investigations, civilians are killed in most operations conducted by US forces.

AIHRC expressed strong concern about the death of innocent Afghans during military operations and urged those responsible for the killings to face trial.

"According to our investigations, 98% of civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces in Afghanistan are intentional," the head of the AHRO, Lal Gul, said.

"The actions of the coalition forces, especially the American forces, are not only against the human rights laws, but are considered war crimes. Therefore, these forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan," he said.

Foreign forces maintain that they try their best to minimise civilian casualties in their operations.

They also accuse the Taliban of using civilians as human shields by taking shelter in residential homes and areas.

A spokesman for the AHRO, Nadir Nadiri, said: "Whenever a military force, or one of the two sides in a war, kill innocent people intentionally, it has broken the international human rights law, and according to the human rights law, such people must be tried."

NATO and the US-led coalition have come under fire from Afghan politicians, ordinary people and the local media for killing innocent civilians in recent weeks.

On Monday, residents accused foreign troops of killing four members of the same family during a midnight raid in Kabul, a claim the international troops strongly deny.

On August 22, a coalition raid on a village in the western province of Herat killed as many as 90 civilians, 60 of them children, a United Nations investigation into the ground and air operation revealed.

Karzai, who has also chided western generals for their failure to minimise civilian casualties, says the death of innocent Afghans only plays into the hands of the Taliban, who use the killings to turn people against the government.

More than 500 civilians have been killed during operations led by foreign and Afghan forces against militants this year, according to the Afghan government and some aid groups.

The UN says the civilian death-toll has increased "sharply" this year on last.

‘500 civilians killed, injured in Afghanistan

PESHAWAR: At least 500 civilians were killed or wounded during the five-day US-led troops` ground and air operation in the Sangin district of Helmand province, a member of Afghanistan`s parliament said on Sunday.

"Foreign forces have been conducting operation in Sarwan Qala area of Sangin district for the last five days in which artillery and aircraft are being used," Dad Muhammad Khan, member of Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament), told Afghan Islamic Press.

"The dead and injured were lying in the area and there is no one to shift the injured. Yesterday, I raised the issue in the parliament but the government has done nothing so far," he said.

AP adds: Nato says a roadside blast in southern Afghanistan has killed one of its soldiers. A statement by the military alliance says the soldier died of wounds sustained in the roadside bombing Sunday.

Certainly reminds me of Vietnam seems that war also poured over the boarders too. Seems most American wars pour over the boarders to other countries.

Reported US attack pushes Afghanistan war into Pakistan

Up to 20 die in attack by commandoes on village near known Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold

Simon Tisdall and Saeed Shah in Islamabad

Wednesday September 03 2008

The war in Afghanistan spilled over into Pakistani territory for the first time today when heavily armed commandoes, believed to be US special forces, landed by helicopter and attacked three houses in a village close to a known Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold.

The early morning attack on Jala Khel killed between seven and 20 people, according to a range of reports from the remote Angoor Adda region of South Waziristan. The village is situated less than a mile from the Afghanistan border.

Local residents were quoted as saying most of the dead were civilians and included women and children. It was not known whether any Taliban or al-Qaida militants or western forces were among the dead.

Major-General Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistan army, said Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) had carried out the raid. "Two helicopters of Isaf landed very early in the morning and conducted a raid on a compound there. As per our report, seven civilians were killed in this raid."

But a Nato spokesman denied involvement. "There has been no Nato or Isaf involvement crossing the border into Pakistan," the Nato spokesman James Appathurai said.

There were unconfirmed reports that the incursion was carried out by US special forces, which are not under Isaf command and can operate independently. A US military spokesman at the Bagram base near Kabul did not deny an attack had occurred but declined to comment.

Official Pakistani condemnation swiftly followed the attack amid growing concern that the Nato-led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan could spread to Pakistan, sparking a region-wide conflagration.

Owais Ahmed Ghanisaid, the governor of North-West Frontier province, which adjoins South Waziristan, said 20 people had died and called for retaliation by the Pakistani army. "This is a direct assault on the sovereignty of Pakistan, and the people of Pakistan expect that the armed forces ... would rise to defend the sovereignty of the country and give a befitting reply," he said.

The foreign ministry in Islamabad said the incursion was "a gross violation of Pakistan's territory" and a "grave provocation" that had resulted in "immense" loss of civilian life.

"Such actions are counter-productive and certainly do not help our joint efforts to fight terrorism. On the contrary, they undermine the very basis of cooperation and may fuel the fire of hatred and violence we are trying to extinguish."

"This is a very alarming and very dangerous development," said a former senior Pakistani official. "We have absolutely been telling them (the US) not to do this but they ignored us."

US and Nato commanders say Taliban and al-Qaida fighters use the unruly, semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan to stage strikes on coalition forces inside Afghanistan and to create "safe havens" where they are immune from attack. Nato and civilian casualties in Afghanistan have reached record levels in the past 12 months as the result of a spreading Taliban offensive.

US forces have used missile-carrying drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – to target militant targets inside Pakistan in the past. But today's assault, involving up to three helicopters and infantry commandoes, marked the first time a direct attack had taken place on Pakistani soil.

Tensions between Pakistan's new civilian government and the US have been running high after American accusations that rogue elements in Pakistan's top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, were feeding classified information on coalition troops to Taliban fighters. Washington has also repeatedly accused Islamabad of failing to do enough to curb militant activity along the Afghan border.

The strains have been exacerbated by a political crisis in Pakistan after last month's forced resignation of President Pervez Musharraf and the collapse of a power-sharing agreement between the ruling Pakistan People's party (PPP) and Nawz Sharif, a former prime minister. An election to find a replacement for Musharraf is scheduled for Saturday, with the PPP chairman and Benazir Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, expected to win.

In a further sign of instability, militants opened fire today on prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's car, in an apparent assassination attempt, near Islamabad. The assailants, firing from a roadside embankment, hit the driver's side window twice. Gilani was not in the car at the time. Television pictures showed two clear impact marks on the car's bullet-proof window, which cracked along its length but did not shatter. Gilani's son and a government minister were reportedly in the motorcade.

A top security official in Islamabad said: "This was a warning. They're saying, 'We can get you'. If they could fire bullets, they could also fire a rocket-launcher." The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a protest against military operations against them in the north-west valley of Swat.

Gilani was due to meet David Cameron, the Conservative leader who is visiting Pakistan. In a speech, Cameron said the attack was "another reminder of the permanent threat that terrorism poses".

Pakistan strongly condemns cross-border killing by coalition forces

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan strongly condemned cross-border killing by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Wednesday, the army said in a statement.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, ISAF troops in two helicopters landed at a village near Angoor Adda, South Waziristan Agency and as per reports received so far, killed seven innocent civilians, according to the statement.

This completely unprovoked act of killing is strongly condemned and the loss of precious lives is regretted, said the statement.

An army spokesman said in the statement that he blamed the Coalition Forces for this violent act and said that such acts of aggression did not serve the common cause of fighting terrorism and militancy in the area.

"A strong protest by Foreign Office has been lodged with Government of United States," said the statement.

Pakistan Army has also lodged a strong protest with Office of the Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP). "We reserve the right of self defence and retaliation to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression," the statement said.

Private TV channel DAWN NEWS reported that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces came in three helicopters and landed in South Waziristan and attacked three houses, leaving 15 people dead, including three women and four children.