This is from the CBC Canada. Karzai has complained about the NATO and US bombing many times but the deaths seem to be increasing. The reason is clear. The political fallout at home is much greater for troop deaths than Afghan casualties. The main aim of the occupying forces is to keep down their own casualties as far as possible. Of course in the propaganda war the occupiers insist that they do their best to avoid civilian casualties and their reports always understate civilian deaths or collateral damage as it is called. The occuppiers do not even bother to count these deaths.
Human rights group says civilian deaths in Afghanistan on rise
Last Updated: Monday, September 8, 2008 | 4:03 PM ET Comments9Recommend7CBC News
Human Rights Watch is urging the U.S. and NATO to change tactics to prevent civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
The human rights group, based in New York City, issued a report Monday that said most civilian deaths in Afghanistan occur during "unplanned air strikes," when bombing is carried out to support ground troops under attack by insurgents.
Civilian deaths undermine local support for the international effort in Afghanistan and could be prevented through better intelligence, the report said.
"The recent air strikes killing dozens of Afghans make clear that the system is still broken and that civilians continue to pay the ultimate price," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a release.
"Civilian deaths from air strikes act as a recruiting tool for the Taliban and risk fatally undermining the international effort to provide basic security to the people of Afghanistan."
In the 43-page report titled "Troops in Contact: Airstrikes and Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan," Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. to take responsibility immediately after deaths occur.
It said U.S. officials often deny responsibility or blame the Taliban.
Investigations by the U.S. have been "unilateral, ponderous and lacking in transparency," an approach which undercuts rather than improves relations with local populations.
'Must take responsibility'
"The U.S. needs to end the mistakes that are killing so many civilians," Adam said.
"The U.S. must also take responsibility, including by providing timely compensation, when its air strikes kill Afghan civilians. While Taliban shielding is a factor in some civilian deaths, the U.S. shouldn't use this as an excuse when it could have taken better precautions.
"It is, after all, its bombs that are doing the killing."
The report said air strikes in densely populated areas are a particular problem.
"Rapid-response air strikes have meant higher civilian casualties, while every bomb dropped in populated areas amplifies the chance of a mistake," Adams said.
In the first seven months of 2008, at least 540 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting related to the conflict.
Civilians used as shields
Of that number, at least 367 died during attacks by the various insurgent forces, and 173 died during U.S. or NATO attacks. At least 119 were killed by U.S. or NATO air strikes.
The report documents how insurgent forces have contributed to the civilian death toll by deploying forces in populated villages, sometimes with the intent to shield their forces from counterattack.
Human Rights Watch found several instances where Taliban forces purposefully used civilians as shields to ward off attacks by foreign troops.
In July 2007, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force announced it would change tactics to reduce civilian casualties.
The changes included using smaller bombs, delaying attacks where civilians might be harmed and asking the Afghan National Army to take charge of house-to-house searches.
Human Rights Watch said the changes made a difference in the last half of 2007 but it remains concerned about continuing civilian casualties from air strikes because numbers increased dramatically this summer.
The report comes two weeks after Afghan and UN officials found that a U.S.-led military operation in the village of Azizabad killed 90 civilians, including dozens of children. The U.S. military initially played down the claims, saying its review of the incident indicated about 30 Taliban members were killed and only a few civilians died.
But on Sunday, the U.S military said it would send a senior officer to Afghanistan to review its initial investigation, given new information about the attack.
Two videos obtained by the Associated Press on Monday appear to show the dead bodies of dozens of people killed in the attack. At least 10 children's bodies, some with graphic wounds, are visible.
Many of the bodies are shrouded in white cloths, and wailing Afghan women and men are seen lifting the blankets to expose the bodies.
With files from the Associated Press