Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Claims of Civilian Casualties in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, Under Investigation

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 21, 2009 -- Coalition forces are meeting with Afghan officials to look into allegations of civilian casualties as a result of operations conducted in Kapisa Jan. 20.

Statements from Kapisa leaders and coalition operational reports maintain coalition forces only killed Taliban commander Mullah Patang and 18 other militants. However, Pahjwok Afghan News reported Kapisa residents said coalition troops killed 25 civilians during the operation.

Coalition forces met with Kapisa leaders before and after the operation. Gov. Abu Bakr told coalition forces after the operation Jan. 20 that he knew the target, Mullah Patang (“Mullah the Robber”), and thanked the coalition for removing him and his supporters. Afghan Islamic Press also quoted Nesar Ahmad Safay, a Hezb-e Eslami spokesman, who confirmed coalition forces killed “Commander Patang” and 13 other fighters in the incident.

During the operation, multiple groups of armed militants exited several buildings and attempted to engage approaching coalition forces with small-arms fire. Coalition forces returned small-arms fire and used close-air precision munitions to prevent the armed militants’ movement against coalition forces. Coalition forces used small-arms and precision munitions to minimize the risk to civilians in Kapisa.

“We take reports of civilian casualties very seriously,” said Col. Greg Julian, U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman. “Our primary effort is to provide security for the Afghan population and we operate in strict accordance with our commander’s directive. Our investigation into recent operations in Kapisa will weigh all inputs to determine the truth.”

(Report from a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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