Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Clinton Expresses Regret for Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

. . . after, according to the Red Cross, US airstrikes killed dozens of villagers, including 14 members of one family (one of them a Red Cross volunteer) who were trying to shelter from the fighting.

Referring to an airstrike in western Afghanistan Monday that Afghan officials and foreign relief workers say killed dozens of civilians, Clinton expressed "my personal regret, and certainly the sympathy of our administration, on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan. . . . We deeply regret it. We don't know all of the circumstances or causes. And there will be a joint investigation, by your government and ours. But any loss of life, any loss of innocent life, is particularly painful. And I want to convey to the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan that . . . we will work very hard, with your governments and with your leaders, to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life. And we deeply, deeply regret that loss."

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, "dozens of people, including women and children, were killed in airstrikes on villages in Farah province" in western Afghanistan on the evening of May 4 following clashes in the area between "armed opposition fighters" and Afghan army troops backed by "international military forces."

The Guardian reports that the dead may number as many as 100.

A US spokesman in Afghanistan, Colonel Greg Julian, confirmed that US coalition forces had participated in the fighting on Monday night.

"There was an insurgent attack on an ANA group and the ANA called for assistance, and some coalition troops joined them to help fight this group. There was close air support," he told Reuters.

He said US and Afghan officials would head to the site today to investigate the reports of civilian deaths.

Mohammad Nieem Qadderdan, the former top official in the district of Bala Baluk, told AP by phone he saw dozens of bodies when he visited the village of Gerani. "These houses that were full of children and women and elders were bombed by planes. People are digging through rubble with shovels and hands."

I'm sure the families affected will accept Mrs. Clinton's apology with resignation and open arms, and will wish her and her country all the best. After all, in the tradition of Vietnam, we're only killing the villagers in order to save them.

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