A Heartbroken Groom in Afghanistan
- 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.
Attiqullahfs father had sent the entire family to the bridefs 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 groomfs 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
Attiqullahfs 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.
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.
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. @
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
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