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A Heartbroken Groom in Afghanistan

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    A Heartbroken Groom in Nangarhar By Iqbal Sapand http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20680.htm 03/09/08 NBC -- - I thought American forces were
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2008
      A Heartbroken Groom in Nangarhar
      By Iqbal Sapand

      03/09/08 "NBC" -- - "I thought American forces were in Afghanistan
      for our security," said Attiqullah, his voice trembling. "I could
      never have imagined that they would bomb my wedding party. They
      killed my entire family. I will never forgive them."

      I sat with Attiqullah, who gives his age as around 15, near the
      graves where his family members are buried. He described what
      happened the day of July 6, 2008 -- his wedding day -- when his
      bride, two of his brothers and a sister, along with 45 relatives,
      were killed by a U.S. air strike on the remote village of Oghaza, in
      Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan.

      Attiqullahfs father had sent the entire family to the bridefs house
      the night before the wedding ceremony, as per Afghan custom. "The
      women were playing musical instruments and everyone was singing and
      dancing," Attiqullah said. "Then, according to our tradition, the
      entire groomfs family must escort the bride from her house to meet
      the groom. Early the next morning everyone set out on the way to my
      house, walking in a kind of procession through a mountain pass. And
      then, the unimaginable happened."

      "It was 6:30 in the morning and there were 300 of my relatives and
      friends gathered at my house waiting for the bride to arrive," he
      said. Attiqullah, by now his eyes brimming with tears, was barely
      audible and wanted to appear strong in front of me. He was fighting
      hard not to lose control as he told his story so he avoided my eyes
      and drew circles in the mud as he answered my questions.

      "I was watching the cooks cut the meats, prepare the potatoes, and
      wash the rice," he continued. "This was all for me and I felt so
      happy and proud. I was day-dreaming of welcoming my bride, wondering
      how she would feel as she entered my house and also how I would
      feel. I was counting the minutes to her arrival."

      "Then there was a loud explosion on the top of the mountain,"
      Attiqullah, crying, explained what happened. "I saw balls of fire
      explode in the sky, the mountain seemed to be burning. I ran from
      the house and started climbing. I ran faster and faster. I could
      hear the cries of children and women. And then the second explosion."

      Attiqullah / NBC News
      Attiqullah prays in the graveyard

      Attiqullahfs house, a simple structure of mud, rock and wood, is
      built along the side of the mountain. It took him a half hour to run
      up the mountain, his uncle running with him.

      "And then there was a third explosion," he said.

      "Oh my God!" Attiqullah was now sobbing uncontrollably. " I saw my
      bride and my family members; I saw the pieces of their bodies
      scattered all over the place."

      The U.S. military is investigating the incident and said in a
      statement: "Any loss of innocent life is tragic."

      "I assure you we do not target civilians and that our forces go to
      great lengths to avoid civilian casualties," U.S. military
      spokesman, 1st Lieutenant Nathan Perry said.

      An investigation by the Afghan government concluded that 52 people
      died in that air attack - 45 women and children were killed. Afghan
      President Hamid Karzai ordered his government to pay $2,000 for each
      person killed and $1,000 to each injured person.

      Attiqullah told me there was no offer of assistance to the family
      from coalition forces.


      36 Taliban militants killed in Afghanistan:

      Taliban militants attacked a convoy of Afghan and US-led coalition
      forces in Faizabad area of Nawbahar in southern Zabul province
      Tuesday, sparking a three-hour gun battle in the area, Ghulom
      Jailani Farahi, provincial security chief, said.


      Canadian occupation force soldier killed in Kandahar:

      Canada has lost another occupation force soldier in Afghanistan,
      just days after he received a medal for bravery.


      Afghan Leader: Bush 'Regrets' Civilian Casualties In US Strike: -

      KABUL (AFP)--U.S. President George W. Bush expressed regret over
      civilian casualties from a U.S.-led airstrike in western
      Afghanistan, the office of his Afghan counterpart said Wednesday.

      The expression of regret came during a regular video conference
      involving Bush and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.

      The two presidents have a video conference every two weeks, a press
      statement from Karzai's office said.

      "Expressing regrets about the Shindand incident, the president
      (Bush) said, 'I share your pain and sorrow, and that of the people
      of Afghanistan,'" according to the Kabul presidential statement.

      Afghan officials have said a U.S.-led airstrike on Aug. 22 in the
      Shindand district of western Herat province killed 90 civilians,
      most of them women and children.

      U.S.-led forces insist they killed 30 insurgents and "five to seven"

      "The subject of today's video conference concerned matters of mutual
      interest between the two countries, especially civilian casualties
      and the incident of Shindand," the statement said.

      The incident caused uproar in the Afghan parliament and was widely
      criticized in the country and by Karzai, who called for new rules on
      how foreign troops operate.

      The U.S.-led force, the United Nations and Afghanistan's government
      have agreed to jointly investigate the civilian deaths.

      Civilian casualties resulting from military operations under NATO
      and US command have become a sore issue in the relationship between
      Afghanistan and its western allies since US-led coalition forces
      overthrew the Taliban regime.


      Army: 30 militants killed in NW Pakistan: -

      Pakistan's security forces Wednesday killed at least 30 militants
      and injured 35 others in fresh attacks in northwest Pakistan, the
      army said in a statement.


      Act of war: US Troops Attack / Kill Civilians in Pakistan :

      At least 15 people have been killed in a village along the border of
      Pakistan, in an attack by US-led coalition forces based in
      neighbouring Afghanistan, officials said.

      Mowaz Khan, an official in the South Waziristan tribal district,
      said on Wednesday that helicopters dropped troops into the border
      village of Jalal Khel, and that the troops shot civilians who had
      left their homes upon hearing the helicopters.

      Among those killed were women and children, Khan said.

      But coalition and separate Nato-led security forces in Afghanistan
      said they had no knowledge of any such attack, which reportedly took
      place in South Waziristan.

      The US amabassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, was later summoned
      to the Pakistan foreign ministry.

      'Outrageous' incident

      Pakistan has protested in the past about missile attacks on its
      territory, aimed at Taliban forces in tribal areas, but it is the
      first time officials have alleged a direct attack by foreign troops
      on its soil since 2001.

      Owais Ahmed Ghani, North West Frontier Province governor, described
      the incident as"outrageous" and gave an even higher death toll.

      "At least 20 innocent citizens of Pakistan including women and
      children were martyred," he said.

      "This is a direct assault on the sovereignty of Pakistan and the
      people of Pakistan. Expect that the armed forces of Pakistan would
      rise to defend the sovereignty of the country."

      Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, also criticised the
      attack, saying in a statement that "no external forces could be
      allowed to launch an attack in Pakistan's territory".

      A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force
      (Isaf) said he had no word of such a raid.

      He said Isaf did not have a mandate to attack outside the borders of
      Afghanistan unless its troops came under fire from within Pakistan.

      Safe haven

      South Waziristan serves as a safe haven for al-Qaeda, and Taliban
      fighters are said to have moved there following the US-led invasion
      of Afghanistan that saw the Taliban removed from power in October

      A senior Pakistani official said that the coalition had indicated
      that its action was carried out in response to rocket attacks that
      targeted their camp in Afghanistan late on Tuesday.

      Raids with helicopters or aircraft are extremely rare. But the
      American media recently reported that the US was planning direct
      attacks on Pakistani soil, blaming Islamabad for failing to tackle
      al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters based there.

      A recent series of missile strikes targeting rebels in Pakistan has
      been attributed to US-led coalition forces or the CIA based in

      US forces say that Pakistan's border areas are a safe haven for al-
      Qaeda and Taliban rebels and are being used as a launching pad for
      attacks on coalition troops.

      There are at least 70,000 international forces deployed under Nato
      and a separate US-led coalition in Afghanistan in an effort to help
      local forces fight the Taliban.


      Pakistan strongly condemns cross-border killing by coalition forces:

      ISLAMABAD, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan strongly condemned cross-
      border killing by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on
      Wednesday, the army said in a statement.

      In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, ISAF troops in two
      helicopters landed at a village near Angoor Adda, South Waziristan
      Agency and as per reports received so far, killed seven innocent
      civilians, according to the statement.

      This completely unprovoked act of killing is strongly condemned
      and the loss of precious lives is regretted, said the statement.

      An army spokesman said in the statement that he blamed the
      Coalition Forces for this violent act and said that such acts of
      aggression did not serve the common cause of fighting terrorism and
      militancy in the area.

      "A strong protest by Foreign Office has been lodged with
      Government of United States," said the statement.

      Pakistan Army has also lodged a strong protest with Office of
      the Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP). "We reserve the right
      of self defence and retaliation to protect our citizens and soldiers
      against aggression," the statement said.

      Private TV channel DAWN NEWS reported that the North Atlantic
      Treaty Organization forces came in three helicopters and landed in
      South Waziristan and attacked three houses, leaving 15 people dead,
      including three women and four children. @



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