Socialist Worker

West commits another bloody Afghan massacre

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2168

Occupation forces have committed another slaughter of Afghan people—despite a pledge by the new supreme military commander to halt attacks on civilians.

Over 70 people are believed to have been killed when German Nato troops ordered an airstrike on villagers as they were siphoning fuel from hijacked tankers stranded in the Kunduz River.

The attack took place 100 miles north of the capital Kabul on Friday of last week.

A pattern marks many of these attacks. “Insurgents” are said to have been spotted by bombers or unmanned drones.

The information is then relayed to a commander on the ground who calls in an airstrike.

Nato then releases information it knows to be false, usually with a death tally of Taliban fighters.

In last week’s attack, the German military said it had to destroy the tankers as they could be used in a suicide attack on its military base nearby.

But, according to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, fighters who seized the trucks were simply attempting to offload the fuel as the tankers were stuck in the riverbed.

Wedding

At around 2am, some 500 villagers, many of who had just attended a late night wedding and Ramadan festivities, swarmed around the trucks to collect the offloaded fuel.

At this point a Nato warplane swooped in, dropping two 500lb bombs.

This bombing has unleashed a storm of protest in Afghanistan.

It also triggered a row between General Stanley McChrystal, the new commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, and the German military. A red-faced McChrystal joined in the condemnation of the attack and informed the Afghan government that he did not authorise it.

The occupation is struggling to control a growing insurgency, and is floundering in its attempts to rebuild relations with Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

The US opposed Karzai’s bid to retain the presidency in elections marked by fraud.

The latest attack comes as more foreign troops are dying in the country. More than 200 were killed in the past three months—higher than in the whole of 2006.

The increasing number of British troops killed is leading to growing opposition to the war here. The intensifying demand to bring the troops home is one of the key parts of the crisis engulfing Gordon Brown.

More German, French, Canadian, Dutch and Polish

soldiers are also dying. These forces are based mainly in areas that were once considered calm.

When the US struck a deal with Russia to ship supplies in from Central Asian countries it opened a new front in the war.

Bombed

The fuel tankers were passing through ethnically-mixed, and poor, northern regions with little experience of the occupation.

The regional governor said that the fighters who seized the tankers failed to clear civilians away despite warning them that they could be bombed.

The row between the Afghan government, the US and Germany has created an unprecedented crisis inside the Nato military alliance.

The US is attempting to push its allies to send more troops and equipment as part of a surge of troops. This has so far failed to contain the growing rebellion.


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Article information

News
Tue 8 Sep 2009, 19:38 BST
Issue No. 2168
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