U.S. Helicopter Raid Kills 27 Afghan Civilians

22.02.10

Categorie: Afghanistan, Air, Alliances, David Axe |
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Uruzgan. NATO photo.

by DAVID AXE

A botched assault by American helicopters has killed around two dozen Afghan civilians in Uruzgan province, in the country’s restive south. Voice of America reports 21 killed and 14 wounded in the Sunday attack. A Dutch reporter embedded in the province told our own Andrew Balcombe that the toll was higher.

“U.S. helicopters hit three minibuses, thinking they were Taliban,” Andrew recalls Peter Ter Velde telling him. “Turned out to be civilians. Troops on the ground discovered 27 dead men, women, kids. Wounded have been transferred to hospital at Kamp Holland,” the main Dutch base in the province.

The incident comes just a couple weeks after a dozen civilians died when a U.S. rocket struck their home in Marjah, where NATO is battling hundreds of Taliban fighters. Those deaths prompted an official apology and a brief suspension of similar rocket attacks. Last fall, Air Force Brigadier General Steve Kwast told me that NATO forces would avoid fighting in areas where civilians might get hurt. That has proved easier said than done.

The deaths could not have come at a worse time for the Dutch. The Dutch government has collapsed as the major parties fight over whether to continue supporting the NATO effort in Afghanistan. You might recall that an air strike on a fuel tanker in German-controlled Kunduz last year killed around 100 people and sparked bitter debate in Berlin.

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