Kabul Tomorrow Sunny
Kandahar Tomorrow Sunny
Herat Tomorrow Sunny
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Sunny
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Sunny
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Sunny
The Killid Group
Bloody, deadly weeks for civiliansWritten by Izazullah Zaland and Zia Entezar
Sunday, 06 March 2011 11:37
Over 200 civilian Afghans have lost their lives and dozens more have been wounded in an appalling spate of armed violence over the past four weeks prompting widespread concerns about the protection of civilians amid increased fighting.
In the latest incident, U.S.-NATO forces have been accused of killing nine children in Dara-e-Pech District in the eastern Kunar Province on 1 March. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed in statement that it had received reports of civilian casualties and was probing the incident. The incident comes only two weeks after deadly U.S.-NATO military operations in Kunar's Ghaziabad District on 18-19 February in which over 60 civilians, including 30 children and 19 women, were killed and many others were injured, according to assessments announced by the government. U.S. and NATO officials vehemently deny that their forces caused the massacre in Ghaziabad and insist that only combatants were targeted and killed.
Taliban insurgents also spared no violence against noncombatants in February. In a bloody series of complex suicide attacks in different parts of the country throughout last month, Taliban fighters killed dozens of civilian people and wounded numerous others.
On 27 February, an improvised explosion at a dog-fighting gathering in Kandahar Province's Arghanda District killed eight people and wounded over 12, according to provincial authorities. One day earlier, nine people were killed and several others were injured when their bus drove over improvised munitions in Ghorgory area in the southeastern Khost Province. On 21 February, a suicide attack in front of a civilian government office in the Imam Sahib District of the northern Kunduz Province killed 29 people and wounded over 40. Purported Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for each one of these attacks without expressing any regret about the civilian losses.
Insult to the injury
After President Hamid Karzai's office strongly condemned the killing of civilian people by U.S.-NATO forces in Kunar's Ghaziabad, the commander of all U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, was quoted in the media as saying that locals could have staged a fake drama of civilian casualties in Kunar. A senior U.S.-NATO commander even suggested that some parents could have deliberately burnt their children at the behest of the Taliban in order to show off a scene of civilian casualties by the international military forces. The remarks sparked a strong outrage in Kabul and President Karzai's office issue a statement demanding immediate clarification from the U.S.-NATO command in Kabul. However, no clarification has been provided as of 3 March and U.S. military officials remain adamant in their initial position.
On the other side, Taliban insurgents have been condemned for what appears to be their systematic, deliberate and widespread attacks on civilian people and locations. The indiscriminate shooting by a Taliban fighter on unarmed people inside a bank in the eastern Jalalabad city on 19 February - the footage of which was shown by a local TV - has been described as barbaric and unjustifiable. Over 30 people were killed and more than 60 were injured in the attack.
"We are inquiring our commanders about the killing of civilian people as shown in the Kabul Bank incident footage in Jalalabad city," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Killid in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location. He too denied reports that civilian people suffer the brunt of casualties in the Taliban's attack.
The so-called Islamic Emirate of the Taliban has never issued a statement to apologize for the death of civilian people in their attacks and/or express sympathy with victim families.
A lack of acknowledgement by the warring parties for the civilian casualties resulting from their military activities is widely perceived by the Afghans as insults to their injuries.
The U.S.-led war started over a decade ago but instead of ebbing out the conflict has rapidly intensified to record levels with the civilian people suffering the brunt of war-related casualties.
More than 2,400 civilians were killed and over 3,600 were wounded in conflict-related security incidents in 2010, according to a report by the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM), a Kabul-based non-government rights group. Over 60 percent of the reported casualties were attributed to the armed opposition groups, 21 percent were caused by U.S.-NATO forces and the rest were caused by local pro-government forces, militias and other criminal groups, the organization said.
There is a widespread consensus that the war is unlikely to abate in the foreseeable future but would further intensify over the coming months.
Traditionally, less armed violence occur during the winter months as opposition groups face seasonal hurdles in their military activities. However, security incidents hike in the spring and summer when movements, communication and logistics become easier for the insurgents.
There are more U.S.-NATO forces based in Afghanistan than ever before and they are backed by an increasing number of Afghan Government forces. The Taliban have also swamped their numbers with new recruits from Pakistani religious seminaries and Taliban leaders have already indicated that there will be more fighting in 2011. The military fortifications - be it the armed opposition or the pro-government foreign and Afghan forces - bode ill to the civilian people who have already and increasingly suffered in blood and treasure disproportionately.