Claims that US troops shot dead up to six unarmed Afghan civilians
two months ago in Kabul have been given added credibility with a series of photographs
offering visual evidence of military misconduct.
The pictures were taken by an Afghan passer-by on 29 May in Khair Kane, a district
of north Kabul. The 20 photographs appear to show a group of unarmed Afghan
civilians being killed by gunfire from an American Humvee.
The allegations made in Kabul follow other recent incidents in which US troops
are alleged to have used disproportionate or reckless force against civilians,
most notably in Haditha, Iraq, on 19 November 2005 when US troops allegedly
killed 15 civilians.
The Kabul pictures were taken as American vehicles fled the scene of an accident
in which several Afghans were killed and injured after a US Army truck lost
control and hit a number of civilian vehicles. Shot from a hillside above where
the original accident took place, they show a crowd of Afghans throwing stones
at the American vehicles.
A sequence of pictures show US vehicles leaving at high speed as the crowd
stones them. In one sequence, a clearly unarmed Afghan man is seen with an American
Humvee in the background, then as part of a group of men throwing stones towards
the Americans. Two frames later his lifeless body is on the ground, having apparently
been shot in the chest.
Another picture shows the body of an 18-year-old mechanic named Maiwan. His
family said he was also hit by bullets fired from a US Humvee towards the crowd.
His brother Jawad, 19, said Maiwan died from wounds to his knee and chest. "We
are not the sort of people to do anything against US forces," said Jawad.
"Maiwan was quiet and friendly. My father loved him too much, more than
the rest of us."
The photographer, Atif Ahmadzai, 34, said: "I thought at first they were
firing into the air. I was on the hill taking the pictures and, as they fired
towards me, I ducked. One bullet grazed my thigh. Two people were killed behind
me." He said he saw six bodies in total.
The day after the rioting he took the pictures to the US embassy. "I told
them,'Just look at the people in the pictures, they are all unarmed',"
he said. A statement released by the US military said a US Army truck had suffered
a brake failure, causing it to lose control and hit up to 13 Afghan civilian
vehicles, killing one person. The statement said: "There are indications
that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd."
US forces have launched an investigation into the incident, the results of which
are due to be published next week.
All the witnesses to the incident reported at least one US vehicle opened fire
on the civilians. "I saw with my own eyes that the soldier fired on the
people," said Nazir Akhmad, 32, who owns a petrol station near where the
accident occurred. "Her gun was pointed in the air but then she brought
it down and started firing. The first bullet killed a boy called Khaled."
The US military declined to comment yesterday on its investigation. The US
spokesman, Col Tom Collins, said: "I can't comment on the results of the
investigation but there is no doubt that our soldiers thought there was fire
emanating from the crowd."
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