Did U.S. Forces Execute Kids in Afghanistan?
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The Taliban suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan was big news in the U.S. over the past week. The attack took place on a base that was directing U.S. drone aircraft used to attack Taliban leaders. The airwaves and front pages were filled with sympathetic stories referring to the fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed, was the "mother of three children."
But the apparent mass murder of Afghan school children, including one as young as 11 years old, by U.S.-led troops, was pretty much blacked out in the American media. Especially blacked out was the claim by UN investigators that the students had not just been killed but executed, many of them after having first been rousted from their bedrooms and handcuffed.
Here is the excellent report on the incident that ran in the Times of London (like Fox News, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication) on Dec. 31:â€¨
Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children
By Jerome Starkey in Kabul
American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.
Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.
Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.
"This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time," said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that "the facts about what actually went down are in dispute."
The article goes on to say:
In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. "Seven students were in one room," said Rahman Jan Ehsas. "A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.
"First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That's why his wife wasn't killed."
A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. "I saw their school books covered in blood," he said.
The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.
Compare this article to the one mention of the incident that appeared in the New York Times, one of the few American news outlets to even mention the incident. The article, which appeared on Dec. 28, focused entirely on the difficulty civilian killings cause for the U.S. war effort, and not on the allegations of a serious war crime:
Attack Puts Afghan Leader and NATO at Odds
By Alissa J. Rubin and Abdul Waheed Wafa
KABUL, Afghanistan -- The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or Taliban insurgents.