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article imageTop US general denies US air strike killed children in April

By Ken Hanly     May 15, 2013 in World
Kabul - An April 6 air strike in Kunar Province in Afghanistan killed 18 people including at least 11 children according to Afghan government authorities. However Gen. Joseph Dunford denies categorically that any of the deaths were the result of air strikes.
Of the 18 people reported killed in the air strike, at least one was reported as a senior Taliban commander but there were also many women and children. As reported in the New York Times there was a joint mission of Afghan and US Special Operations forces that was targeting a high-profile Taliban commander at his home. After several hours fighting the US forces called in the airstrike to level the commander's home.The women and children killed were believed to be relatives of the Taliban commander.
General Dunford claims that those who died must have been killed by the Taliban since "no coalition forces were involved in the deaths." Apparently the General is not phased by the fact that the Afghan government has repeatedly maintained that its own investigations show that the deaths were due to blast effects of the air attacks. The killing of civilians in air strikes in Kunar is at least the second this year as the appended video shows.
Aimal Faizi, spokesperson for Hamid Karzai the Afghan President, said that the government still believed the aistrikes caused the April 6 deaths: “There is no change in our position: The airstrikes killed women and children.”
The investigation by international military forces has never been made public. However, interviews with villagers who were present throughout the bombing and with doctors who were familiar with the physical effects of the blasts suggest that blast injuries were responsible for the deaths as the government maintains.
According to a New York Times article that interviewed a member of the Afghan paramilitary team involved in the raid the CIA-run force known as a counter-terrorism pursuit team called in the air strikes after they found that Taliban forces were much stronger than estimated. The heavy bombing was to allow the escape of the group with the body of a CIA adviser who had been killed.
The Afghan group was allegedly searching a compound used by a local Taliban commander when they were besieged by a Taliban force. The Afghan team was said to have put the women and children in a separate room or building when the bullets started flying. The bombing was unrelenting according to villagers who said it sounded like the "end of the world". Numerous witnesses claimed that at least eight or nine aircraft were involved, including four airplanes, two helicopters, two drones, and one very large plane that they described as never running out of bombs. Even after the gun battle stopped the bombing continued for an hour.
The villagers' descriptions of the aftermath of the bombing is interesting. There were no craters caused by the bombing. A village elder said: “We couldn’t find any crater caused by the bomb. We have seen many episodes of bombing and its casualties during the anti-Soviet jihad, and when the Americans have bombed our villages. Those bombings destroyed houses, even big houses; crumbled thick walls; uprooted trees.”
Weapons experts say that the bombs used probably had airburst fuzes that would cause the bomb to explode before hitting the ground causing a shock wave. The villagers said that the casualties did not have missing limbs or shrapnel wounds. The elder thought that the bombs were acoustic or sonic and intended only to deter the Taliban while the counter-terror group retreated.
The US and Afghan team claim that the women and children were still alive when they left the compound. Part of one of the buildings sheltering the women and children collapsed but it is not clear whether this killed them. Note that the villagers said that the blasts continued after the fighting ceased and were covering the retreat of the forces, so the casualties could have happened then.
Apparently blast injuries can cause internal injuries that may not cause death until a few hours after the injuries. Dr. Christopher borne of Rhode Island Hospital said:“People can survive a blast injury and not be aware of the internal bleeding and then die a few hours later.” A colleague noted that being indoors does not always help in fact it can magnify the effect. Only an autopsy could show definitively whether the blast effects caused the deaths.
More about Kunar province, US special forces in Afghanistan, US aghan air attacks
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