Socialist Worker

Afghanistan: Doubts cast on US massacre account

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2295

An Afghan parliamentary investigation team has challenged US claims that a single rogue soldier was responsible for the massacre of 16 civilians in Kandahar province.

The team interviewed witnesses and survivors over two days in the villages where the slaughter took place earlier this month.

Its findings point to the involvement of up to 20 US soldiers in the killings.

“We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour,” said investigator Hamizai Lali.

The US claims that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales acted alone. He has been flown to a military prison in Kansas for a court martial.

The veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk also cast doubt on official explanations for the massacre. He noted that last month General John Allen, the US army’s senior commander in Afghanistan, had appealed to his troops against carrying out revenge attacks in response to deaths of US soldiers.

“Now is not the time for revenge,” Allen told soldiers, adding that they should “resist whatever urge they might have to strike back”.

The massacre has stoked the rage felt in Afghanistan against the US. Far from being an aberration, the murders are seen as part of a brutal war and occupation.

US defence secretary Leon Panetta narrowly escaped an attack last week as he arrived in Afghanistan for visit.

A man drove a burning lorry down a runway towards officials gathering to meet Panetta’s plane.

US soldiers were ordered to leave their weapons outside when Panetta spoke to 200 troops at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province.

The military claimed this was a gesture of respect for troops from other countries who are not allowed to bring arms into these events. But US troops report that they have never before been asked to do this.

Polls show that the Western occupation of Afghanistan is opposed by a majority of public opinion in both Britain and the US.

The West says it will pull the bulk of its frontline troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Any pretence by Western politicians that they are staying to protect the interests of the Afghan people has long been abandoned.

David Cameron admitted on his recent visit to the US that Afghanistan “won’t be a perfect democracy—there will be huge development problems”.

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Tue 20 Mar 2012, 18:10 GMT
Issue No. 2295
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