A Raid Enrages Afghan Villagers

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 10:21:09 +0100

BANDI TEMUR, Afghanistan, May 26 — An airborne assault on this village
by United States-led troops three nights ago has raised anti-American
fury among villagers, who say soldiers shot several people, killed the
headman of the village and caused a 3-year-old girl to flee and fall to
her death down a well. About 50 men were arrested and taken away in
helicopters, they said. 

The anger and shock were evident today in the village. Women and
children wailed as two journalists visited with local district
officials. The grandfather of the dead girl lunged at the visitors,
tearing at his clothes and throwing himself on the ground in distress. 

"They took my sons and they took my money. Only my wife and I are left
in the house. We are crying all day," the man, Abdul Ali, 60, said. "It
was dark, the little girl didn't know where she was running," he said of
his granddaughter. 

As with two other recent raids aimed at suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda
hideouts in southern Afghanistan, this one apparently failed to net any
senior figures. 

But Capt. Steven O'Connor, a spokesman at Bagram Air Base, said the
detainees were still being interrogated and the military did not yet
know exactly who the men were. 

The raid has caused Afghans here to compare the tactics of the
American-led coalition to brutal raids by the Soviet Army in the 1980's.

"They are thinking of when the Russians came and killed a lot of people,
and they are thinking that the Americans and British will also repeat
that," said General Akram, the regional police chief in Kandahar. 

Military officials said the raid on Friday was based on intelligence
that the village was a sanctuary for senior Taliban and Al Qaeda

Captain O'Connor said one person was killed, two were injured and 50
arrested. He added that coalition troops were fired upon first. 

General Akram and Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Kandahar, the
regional capital of southern Afghanistan, became alarmed when angry
villagers arrived in the city on Saturday to complain about the raid.
They threatened to bring thousands of people from their tribe, the
Sakzai, to stone the police station and governor's house, blaming the
governor for inviting in American troops who were now killing people,
General Akram said. 

The villagers traveled to Kandahar again today, spending nearly four
hours talking with American Special Forces troops stationed with the
governor, said the general, who mediated the meeting. 

They were particularly angry at news of the death in custody of their
village leader, Hajji Berget, who was 100 years old. "The villagers
really respected him, that's why they are so angry. He was killed with a
blow from a rifle butt," the general said. 

The Americans wanted to return the old man's body, the villagers said,
but they refused to take it, demanding that all the villagers who had
been arrested be released at the same time. The general said he hoped
for a resolution soon. 

Coalition forces have increased their activity recently against targets
suspected of harboring Taliban or Al Qaeda in western and southern
Afghanistan. It is not clear why the American-led coalition has stepped
up raids, but local officials have said the Taliban remain active in the
region, moving around remote villages, making contacts and possibly

The coalition may be seeking to increase military pressure on Taliban
remnants to prevent them from organizing any violence that could disrupt
the political process, as the country prepares for a grand council in
June to decide on a new head of state and government. 

But local officials said the raid on Bandi Temur, a poor collection of
houses on the edge of the scalding, stony desert, less than 60 miles
from Kandahar, may have served little purpose other than to increase
distrust of foreign troops, and even to turn Afghans against the
American-backed government of Hamid Karzai. 

At least six helicopters swooped in on two hamlets of the village, at 1
a.m. on Friday, landing desert buggies and dozens of troops who
encircled the villages and blew holes in the walls of the largest
compounds, villagers said. The operation lasted until 9 a.m. 

One of the first casualties was Hajji Berget whose house was raided.
Bloodstains marked the platform where he had been sleeping in the
courtyard, but the women gathered there today did not know what injuries
he had suffered. They said he had been taken away with the rest of the
men in the helicopters. 

At least three other men were shot and taken away by the foreign troops,
residents said. 

"They shot my son, Muhammad Sadiq. He was 35. They shot him in the
legs," said Leilo, who pushed forward from the crowd of weeping women.
"I was crouching in the corner. They would not let me go to him. He was
calling Allah! Allah!" she said. 

On the edge of the village, a car riddled with bullet holes stood on
blocks beside a house. 

"They shot my husband, Abdullah, and they beat me and bound my hands and
eyes," said another woman, Naibo. "He drives a taxi, and he said he was
tired and was feeling sick and would sleep in the car. They shot him."
The foreign soldiers pushed her away and took her husband with them, she

Inside the village mosque, a pool of blood, punctured by a single bullet
hole in the concrete, marked where another victim had been shot,
apparently at close range. One of the villagers, Abdul Muhammad, 40,
unwrapped some shards of human skull that he said they had picked out
from the bloodstain. "We don't know who was here. We don't know if he
was escaping or hiding," he said. 

At one end of the village, Oqum Bibi, 30, was rocking a baby and told
how Zaghuna, her 3-year-old daughter, fled from the soldiers in the dark
and fell into the well. "They were shooting. I sat up but I could not
run, they caught me," she said. 
"I could not see anything but she was running. We only found her the
next day. She was in the well, she was dead." 

Source: NY Times 

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