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The Killid Group
Botched NATO raid in Takhar needs answersWritten by Mohammad Reza Golkohi and Sunatullah Temor
Saturday, 28 May 2011 08:59
What exactly happened in Takhar Province on 17-19 May is very important in order to understand the entire tragedy. Killid went to the Gawmali village where the incident started and interviewed the daughters of the couple that was murdered. 'We thought the Americans were here for a search operation but later found out that the tailor's house was attacked,' told us a neighbor.
In an appalling attack on the house of a disabled tailor in the northeastern Takhar Province on 17 May, U.S.-NATO forces shot dead two civilian men and two women as their children were numbed in terror.
Mohammadullah, the one-legged tailor, was the sole breadwinner for his extended family and was respected in his village as a peaceful and calm man.
Instead of apologizing for their egregious act of violence, U.S. forces have accused the victim family of terrorism and have justified their killings as a legitimate act of war. This has been perceived as an insult to the injury as a day after the killings took place over 1,000 demonstrators marched to the streets and chanted slogans against foreign forces and the government. Again, accusing the protestors of violence NATO and Afghan forces opened excessive and indiscriminate fire and killed 12, including 2 children, and wounded over 80 others. U.S.-NATO has even refused to apologize for the killing of the unarmed protestors.
The Killid reporter who went to the Gawmali village where the incident started on 17 May writes his experience as such: "Sorrow and silence have surrounded the bereaved family's house in the Gawmali village. I knocked the small wooden door and a small kid opened it. Everyone was still weeping in the house and everyone, particularly children, looked pale and weak.
Mohammadullah, the late tailor, has left behind six children and the eldest of them is Shakira, 14. I could not dare ask the mourning family details of the incident; their eyes were swamped due to too much weeping and they could not speak.
During the night raid, a toddler was left starving and crying in a cradle because his caring mother had been shot dead by U.S. forces. I was told the toddler was too ill now. An elderly neighbor told me what he saw on the day when U.S. forces conducted the night raid. 'They [foreign forces] had besieged the village and ordered people to stay indoors. We thought the U.S. soldiers were here for search operation but later found out that the tailor's house was attacked.'
As I was interviewing the neighbor, I was told that Shakira, the tailor's eldest daughter, wanted to talk to me: 'When the military operation ended, I walked to the yard and found my mother's body clad in blood and I saw my father's corpse a few meters away.'
Saying this, the young girl burst into tears and somberly asked: 'who will now take care of all the six of us? We have lost everything. I wish we were also dead. What is our fault?'
Munira, who is 2 years younger than Shakira, intervened and said: 'my father thought burglars had broken into our house so he and my mom went to the roof to checkout but we only heard them screaming. We were very scared. My father was disabled and he was innocent. I just want my mom and dad. I miss them too much. We cannot live without them.'
As Munira's voice plunged and tears started dropping down her checks, her uncle stretched his hand over her shoulders and pressed her in his lap. 'My brother in-law was not a terrorist. He was an ordinary man.'"
Blood money rejected
Hundreds of people protested against the killing of Mohammdullah's family on 18-19 May in Taloqan city. Dozens of the demonstrators were killed and wounded by U.S.-NATO and Afghan forces and a NATO spokesman in Kabul blamed some of the protestors for inciting the violence.
From Kabul, President Hamid Karzai sent a delegation to Takhar Province to investigate what had happened and why. The head of the delegation, Shahzada Masoud, had also brought 500,000 Afghanis (US$10,600) to the victim family as a condolence and sympathy gesture from the president. However, the cash was rejected by Shakira who said: "I just want my mom and dad. We don't want this illicit money."
Provincial officials also said they had decided to give a land plot to the bereaved family in the provincial city. President Karzai often distributes cash to families of the civilian victims of U.S.-NATO military operations. Some locals admired Shakira for rejecting the blood money saying justice was needed more than cash.
On the second day of their protests, the demonstrators issued a stark declaration in which they called for the removal of the governor, the police chief, director of the national intelligence directorate and also demanded the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) to leave the province. "We also want the perpetrators of the crimes in Taloqan city and Gawmali to be brought into justice," read the declaration.
At least two Takhar MPs in the National Assembly have alleged that the two women killed in NATO's assault were sexually abused before they were killed as their dead bodies were found naked. The allegations have been rejected by NATO/ISAF. "It was a joint Afghan-ISAF operation and those killed were members of IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan]," said General Josef Blotz, ISAF's spokesperson in Kabul.
It is hard to believe.