Socialist Worker

US bombs kill whole families

Issue No. 1771

BUSH AND Blair don't want to admit their war has slaughtered ordinary men, women and children in Afghanistan. We have only seen a glimpse of the horror of war in some pictures in newspapers and on the television.

US bombs killed up to 100 civilians in the village of Kouram. The bombs ripped into people's bodies and destroyed homes on Thursday of last week. Forty five out of 60 houses were destroyed. Another 100 people were killed as bombs pounded the surrounding area. Blair and Bush claim they are not targeting civilians.

But the victims of their bombs were not terrorists but poor families. Journalists taken to the village described a scene of carnage, with a stench of rotting corpses, limbs torn from victims' bodies and people cowering in anguish. Wayne Francis in the Mirror wrote that one Afghan man cried in despair, 'We are poor people. Don't hit us. We have nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden. We are innocent.'

He described how an old man knelt by a freshly dug grave, weeping furiously. Another villager had lost 11 members of his family. One man buried his wife bit by bit as he dug her out of the rubble. Francis described how 'everywhere there was the stench of death and detritus of war.

'A woman's foot lay in the street and the remains of an arm protruded from a pile of rubble. Houses were squashed. A blood-stained pillowcase lay near a house, as well as what appeared to be a rotting human limb.'

This is the terrible and harrowing reality of Bush and Blair's war on the people of Afghanistan.


Their targets

  • THREE YEAR old Rachman suffered multiple shrapnel wounds. Both his parents were killed.

  • Newborn baby Ali Khan survived a bomb that flattened his house and slaughtered his mother while she was breastfeeding him.

  • Eighteen month old Janbibi and her brother Gul, age six, lost their parents, three brothers and two sisters in the attack.

  • Mohammad Raza, a 45 year old farmer, somehow survived his body being ripped by shrapnel from a Tomahawk missile. His cousin Raiz described how 'metal from the rocket had ripped his throat and made a hole in his chest'. Mohammad was taken to hospital in Jalabad. But doctors had no electricity and no medicines to help him. 'He was just a farmer. What has he done to suffer like this?' said Riaz.


    'What else does the world want from us? Drop one atom bomb and annihilate us all instead of killing us gradually?'
    KABUL RESIDENT


    The 'smart' kill

    US GENERALS were forced to admit that a 'smart' bomb had 'gone astray' a mile away from its target, blasting civilian homes. It hit a poor area in the capital, Kabul, killing four people including a six month old baby girl.

    And Channel 4's reporter Ian Williams, describing the carnage in the Kouram village, said, 'It's clearly no military base or terrorist training camp. The nearest camp is 30 kilometres away.' These bombs are not just one-off mistakes.

    They are part of a systematic bombing campaign which is massacring innocent civilians. The Reuters news agency reports, 'US-led forces using cluster bombs are waging the heaviest round yet of their onslaught on Afghanistan in what Kabul residents say is a terrible inferno of destruction.'

    When cluster bombs are dropped they release hundreds of highly explosive bomblets. These can rip into people's bodies, and can turn areas into lethal minefields for years to come.

    The US is also dropping fuel air bombs on civilian areas, which incinerate people. A US official, when tackled about the civilian casualties in Kabul, said callously, 'We dropped a lot of bombs. We have said this will be relentless, and it will.'


    Short shrift

    WAR CABINET minister Clare Short outrageously claimed last week that there had been no civilian casualties in the US and British bombing. She said, 'We've all seen reports of damage, but clearly there's propaganda and claims of casualties that are not true.' Short said she wanted to see an 'elegant end' to the conflict.

    But there is nothing elegant about the death and suffering of ordinary people in Afghanistan under attack from the world's strongest military power.


    'Your response to the attack does not make us feel better about our son's death. It makes us feel our government is using our son's memory as justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands.'
    Letter from Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, the parents of Gregory Rodriguez who was killed in the World Trade Centre, to George W Bush


    A gag on the truth

    THE government wants to clamp down on even the mildest critical reporting of the war. Most of the press has gone along with the lie that this is a 'clean' war, with 'precision bombs'. But the government wants any criticism of the war to be stamped out. Blair's top spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, summoned journalists to Downing Street to try to gag press reporting of the war even further.

    He said there should be 'a general health warning on anything that comes out of Kabul and Kandahar'. The government claims this is to stop Osama Bin Laden delivering coded messages to terrorists.

    But in reality the government wants journalists to discredit any reports of the carnage caused by Bush and Blair's war. Rupert Murdoch, boss of News International and Fox News, agreed to the censorship. Murdoch, who is now a US citizen, controls at least 35 percent of the newspaper market in Britain. 'We'll do whatever is our patriotic duty,' he said.

    New Labour also wants to use the war to stamp on any criticism of the government and its policies. As Mark Lawson wrote in the Guardian, 'An atmosphere of tension is being used as an excuse to limit criticism of leaders.

    'In the US at least three newspaper columnists and one television talk show host have so far been removed or suspended from their positions because of comments considered insufficiently reverential towards the president or his war aims.'


    Refugee jails

    THE WAR is creating millions of refugees who are fleeing the bombing and the starvation. But this has not brought any compassion from New Labour. It wants to get even tougher on refugees fleeing war, persecution and poverty who try to seek refuge in Britain.

    Home secretary David Blunkett announced plans this week to lock up thousands more asylum seekers in fenced camps. This flies in the face of Blunkett's own promise at Labour Party conference earlier this month. He said he would 'guarantee' that over the next four months the government would 'remove the necessity and therefore the practice of anyone claiming asylum being in prison' if they weren't convicted of or suspected of a crime.

    A Whitehall source was quoted in the Guardian saying, 'There are debates in Whitehall about the effectiveness of the centres and whether they are the right thing, but Blunkett is pushing the idea hard.'


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    Article information

    News
    Sat 20 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1771
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