Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bloody Sunday in Afghanistan

"Destroy the evidence..."

Via Le Monde

LEMONDE.FR with AP, AFP and Reuters | 04.03.07 | 12h40

Sixteen Afghanis were killed and 25 wounded on Sunday 4 March following a suicide bombing targeting a Coalition convoy and return fire from US troops, who claimed they had fallen into a “complex ambush” on a highway in eastern Afghanistan. But the circumstances in which the civilians died remain ambiguous.

A booby-trapped vehicle driven by a kamikaze exploded near a Coalition patrol, which was then targeted by automatic gunfire “coming from all directions”, according to a coalition communiqué. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The communiqué also said that US troops had responded and that the killing of sixteen civilians and the wounding of another 25 occurred in the initial attack on a highway 45 km east of Jalalbad, near the frontier with Pakistan

But the wounded told AP that US troops had opened fire on cars and pedestrians on the highway. "They shot in all directions, even firing at 14 of 15 cars which happened to be on the road", says Tur Gul, 38, who was at a gas station along the highway and who has been shot twice in the right hand. They shot at everything and anything, as well as people traveling in their cars and pedestrians", he added.

The Afghani Ministry of the Interior says a “certain number" of civilians perished in the suicide bombing. "According to the coalition, the soldiers then came under fire, but their response killed ten people and wounded 25. An initial police estimate said 8 civilians were killed by the Coalition. The police made no mention of insurgent fire. Contradicting its own press corps, a Coalition spokesman told AFP that it “was not clear at the moment how many civilians were killed in the bombing and how many died from Coalition or insurgent gunfire. “An investigation is ongoing, he added.

Thousands of angry Afghanis then rushed to the scene and briefly blocked the highway. Demonstrators shouted “Death to America, Death to Karzai", before being dispersed. US troops at the scene, who are part of the ISAF coalition commanded by the United States and not by NATO, destroyed images taken by a photographer, an AP cameraman and Afghani journalists, said the AP.

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