Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Afghani Killing Fields.

By Pervaiz Jamal 13th September 2009.

I remember the beginning of the onslaught in Afganistan back in 2001 very well. I come from a region in Pakistan which lies close to the Afghani border. War is terrible indeed and the people of Afghanistan have suffered more than most from its evils.

But those of you living in the west will have been for the most part misinformed regarding the slaughter and carnage being inflicted upon innocent Afghani people by the so called `coalition forces.`

Here though, is a newspaper report by an honest and uncorrupted western journalist. Remember as you read this is only the tip of the `iceberg.` The scale of murder and death being wrought in that proud land is beyond anything all but a small minority here could ever imagine.
Khanabad 'decimated by the Americans, 100 civilians killed'27.11.2001

When we heard the explosion, we were walking though the bombed out ruins of Khanabad, near the Tajikistan border in the northeast of Afghanistan.

When we got there, picking our way through the collapsed remains of houses, an old man sat in his blood blinking and shaking his head in bewilderment. Beside him, a 15-year-old boy lay bleeding and unconscious.

They had trodden on one of the American cluster bombs that litter the fields and roadside around Khanabad.

The Americans have killed more than 100 unarmed civilians in Khanabad in the last two weeks, relentlessly bombing heavily populated residential areas in the town, which was one of the last under Taleban control.

The Independent first reported allegations of civilian deaths made by fleeing refugees a week ago. Yesterday, after the Taleban finally fled the town, those allegations were confirmed.

Whole suburbs of Khanabad have been decimated. In the suburb of Charikari, we found giant craters and piles of rubble where houses used to be. Burnt, blackened stumps of trees poked through the rubble. Here and there, a fragment of a house was till standing, half a room, open at one end where the rest had collapsed.

Juma Khan was poking around the crater where most of his family died with a shovel. His wife and six of his children, his brother and all his brother's children died in there when the American bomb struck: 15 people in all.

A child's black gumboot lay in the rubble. It could have belonged to Mr Khan's five-year-old son Hakimullah, or his three-year-old daughter Hamza.

The bomb fell at 8am, when the whole family was sitting inside the house. A neighbour, Abdul Qadir, had dropped in to visit. He died too.

"I was just sitting there. The next thing I knew, people were digging me out of the rubble," Mr Khan said.

He saw them dig out his 11-year-old daughter, Gulshan, the only other survivor. She has severe head injuries. "I just started crying out for help," said Mr Khan. But everyone else in the rubble was already dead.

"I don't know who to blame," said Mr Khan. He didn't even know it was the Americans who killed his wife and children. "Maybe it was the Taleban bombing," he said "The planes came and bombed my home. I don't know why. But whoever bombed me is my enemy."

Another man beckoned us towards the remains of his house. It wasn't until we had climbed onto the pile of rubble that was all that was left that he told us we were standing on top of an unexploded bomb. He wanted to know if we thought it was safe for him to move back into the remains with his family. They survived because they were already fleeing when the bomb hit.

"When the bomb hit, I was knocked over by the blast," he told us. "When I came to, I staggered out of the house, but then I felt my legs give way and I fainted again."

General Mohammed Daud of the Northern Alliance claimed that only 13 people were killed in Khanabad when one bomb went astray. That was patently untrue.

One of the refugees who fled named one of the families killed as that of Agha Pedar. Yesterday we found a survivor from Mr Pedar's family, Faizullah.

"I only lived because I was sitting inside," said the young man, a cousin of Mr Pedar's. "The others, who were all sitting outside, were killed."

Faizullah's father, Mr Pedar's son and daughter, and a neighbour, were all killed by the bomb.

The cluster bombs, innocuous-looking yellow tubes, littered the fields and roads around the town, and you had to look carefully before every step. Some of them still had the tiny parachutes on which they float down out of the sky.

Nearby we found the remains of the canister in which they are dropped from the American planes, half of a six-foot-long green cylinder, twisted by the impact when it hit the ground.

"Are they dangerous?" a returning refugee asked us about the cluster bombs. Another wanted to know if it was safe to pick one up.

The answer lay bleeding by the roadside: 15-year-old Habibullah with his stomach torn open, Nur Mohammed, the old man, moaning in agony. There were two other men lying injured beside them. They were returning refugees who tried to take a short cut through a field full of cluster bombs.

When they reached the hospital, there was no one there to treat them. The Taleban used it as a barracks, and most of the doctors had fled the town. The boy, Habibullah, was in serious condition, and when he finally reached the hospital in the next town, an hour away, the doctors were not sure he would survive.

Nur Mohammed was treated by the only doctor in Khanabad, Gholam Rasul Talash. It was he who gave us the figure of 100 civilian deaths. It was entirely consistent with the number of bombed houses.

There was no clue as to why the Americans decided to bomb residential areas of Khanabad - and to use cluster bombs, which are designed to kill and maim.
Some refugees said that foreign Taleban fighters had been hiding inside the houses - but the people we met outside the ruins of their homes said that was not true. There was a Taleban barracks nearby - but the Americans did not appear to have hit that.
One of the refugees told us he had stayed up all night digging a mass grave for the dead. In the cemetery, we found the huge grave of Mr Khan's family. It could have been this one the refugee dug.

Mr Khan stood blinking in the sun. His wife and six of his children were killed in an instant by an American bomb. "What do I do now?" he asked. "I just don't know."

My Comment:

Why are they using cluster bombs in a civilian area? America of all nations should know the dangers of cluster bombs, they have been described as airborne mines due to the undistinguishing nature of these bombs. How can it use them in civilian areas and claim that these deaths are an accident

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