NY TIMES– After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.
The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation– and what falsehoods followed- including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.
A NATO official also said Sunday in an interview that an Afghan-led team of investigators had found signs of evidence tampering at the scene, including the removal of bullets from walls near where the women were killed. A senior NATO official later denied on Monday that any evidence tampering occurred.
The disclosure could not come at a worse moment for the American military: NATO officials are struggling to contain fallout from a series of tirades against the foreign military presence by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has also railed against the killing of civilians by Western forces.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has tried hard, and with some success, to reduce civilian casualties through new rules that include restricting night raids and also bringing Special Operations forces under tighter control. But botched Special Operations attacks- which are blamed for a large proportion of the civilian deaths caused by NATO forces — continue to infuriate Afghans and create support for the Taliban.
NATO military officials had already admitted killing two innocent civilians- a district prosecutor and local police chief- during the raid, on a home near Gardez in southeastern Afghanistan. The two men were shot to death when they came out of their home, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, to investigate.
Three women also died that night at the same home: One was a pregnant mother of 10 and another was a pregnant mother of six. NATO military officials had suggested that the women were actually stabbed to death- or had died by some other means — hours before the raid, an explanation that implied that family members or others at the home might have killed them.
Survivors of the raid called that explanation a cover-up and insisted that American forces killed the women. Relatives and family friends said the bloody raid followed a party in honor of the birth of a grandson of the owner of the house.
Continue reading about the US’s Botched Raid and Cover Up.
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