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Exclusive Rethink Afghanistan Footage Exposes One of the Worst Civilian Casualty Incidents of the War

Rethink Afghanistan

August 6, 2010

For weeks, U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan have denied they killed several dozen civilians in Sangin District of Helmand Province on July 23. But our new video exposes the truth about one of the worst civilian casualty incidents of the war. Watch our exclusive interviews with survivors and demand that your elected officials act to prevent future catastrophes like this.

First, NATO denied knowing anything about the incident.

Then, they said only six people were killed and that most of them were insurgents.

They can't deny it anymore.

Working with a brave team in Afghanistan headed by Anita, Brave New Foundation's Rethink Afghanistan project sent an intrepid local blogger into Sangin District of Helmand Province--one of the most dangerous areas of the country. He brought back extraordinary first-person accounts from survivors of the Sangin catastrophe. Thanks to his work, there's no doubt anymore: as many as 52 people were killed by a rocket fired by NATO forces.

Survivors tell of a scene of absolute carnage and despair, and when the smoke cleared, according to one local, "They [NATO] did nothing and afterwards they said nothing, just like nothing ever happened."

But something did happen, and we have to act.

Watch our new video and send it to your elected officials: http://rethinkafghanistan.com

Tell them you'll remember how they reacted to Sangin when you enter the voting booth this November.

NATO Forces in Afghanistan Can't Deny They Killed Civilians in Sangin Anymore

I will remember Sangin when I vote this November.



Abdul Barg

Interviewer: Can you tell me what happened?

AB: What happened was that when the fighting started we were in our house. When the Taliban came and told us that you guys are the "Kafirs" (Infidels, unbelievers). They said that you started the fire at them, and they were forced to defend themselves. When the gun battle started it got much worse. We ran away from our house towards the roadway

We ran to a place about 200 meters from our village. We gathered all of the women , children and elderly, we were  200 meters away from the location of the actual battle so we thought it would be okay.

The airplanes came(N.A.T.O.) and started the bombardment. A lot of innocent people were killed, old and young, women and children were all martyred. Some had no heads or hands. Body parts were scattered all over the place.

People were screaming one yelled out that for Godís sake someone should go to the government and tell them they are killing innocent people! We are not Taliban! Stop the bombing! These people were waiting for you help!

Interviewer: What happened to the injured?

AB: The injured were taken to the Red Cross hospital. One of the injured was my son the other was my nephew who was in really bad shape.(Crying) We thought the government would bring us peace and security, now I am putting my family members body parts inside a bag with my own two hands.            

Interviewer: How many civilian deaths were there?

AB: I donít know how many but almost every family in the village was placing at least a couple of their loved ones in a bag.

Interviewer: You donít know how many?

AB: Almost every family lost a few. The injured were taken to Chinese Hospital.

Interviewer: Can you estimate how many were killed?

AB: The number of martyred were no less than 35 up to 50 at the most.

Interviewer: What were their ages?

AB: I swear to God that they were 10 to 12 years old and smaller children like my daughter who was 2 years old and my nephew  was 3 months old they were torn to pieces.

Interviewer: Thank you very much...


K: My name is Kasman.

Interviewer: What is your story?

K: My children were outside trying to go to someplace safer away from the fighting. There were no Talibs in my home and my house had nothing to do with the fighting. In my family three women got killed.

One was my wife, one was my daughter, the next morning they realized that there was no Taliban there.

They were unarmed and by themselves but they got martyred.

Interviewer: Who killed them?

K: The bombing was done by the Foreign troops. They claim that the fighting was between them and the Taliban. But our wives and children are not Taliban! The Taliban was far away.

We thought that this place would give us safety for our children but the (N.A.T.O.) bombing got them torn to pieces.

They say the Taliban were here but they are away from us. We donít send our children into combat zone; we want to send them someplace safer. They go to places where the Taliban may or may not have been and bombard them.

Interviewer: What did the Taliban do?

K: The Taliban did nothing.

Interviewer: What did the Foreign Troops do?

K: They did nothing and afterwards they said nothing, just like nothing ever happened. They say the target was the Taliban. We have absolutely nothing to do with the Taliban. They should go to the Taliban and fight them instead of killing innocent women and children.

Mahamoud Jan Kaka

MJK: I am the son of Mahmoud Jan Kaka. I was in the house when I heard the bombing. It was in the afternoon. Like maybe 4:30 or 5. I heard people screaming so I tried to help dig people out from underneath the rubble.

Now we are in a different situation we cannot continue to live like this anymore. When the Taliban fires at them, instead of trying to look for them they come and punish us. 

What can we do and where should we go. The government only cares about the Taliban and not us. They need to take responsibility for killing innocent people.

Interviewer: How many of your family got killed?

MJK: From my family 11 people were martyred. 4 people got injured and we took them to the Chinese Hospital. 2 people from our house. 

I donít know now I canít think. I lost more than my loved ones now I have lost my mind too...

Interviewer: Do you know how many people died?

MJK: 52 people were killed! We donít know how many children or women!

I have only these clothes that I am wearing, All of my belongings I left in the village, I canít go back there. The rest of my family is scattered and lost I donít know where they are.

Interviewer: How many of your family?

MJK: 32 people- my mind doesnít work okay. I have slept a total of 2 hours in 3 days. Some older women got killed a few boys and the rest were all girls.

Interviewer: Now what do you want?

MJK: I want the government to take care of us and give us a secure home. My daughterís in laws were sitting in our house with their other children when the bombing started I saw them get killed with my own eyes!


Abdul Zahar

Interviewer: Brother would you introduce yourself?

AZ: I am Abdul Zadar. I was talking to my kid in the morning when I came in the afternoon I heard about the killings. They came and asked me around 5 p.m if  I had indentified anyone. I took my hat off and looked around all of them were lying on the floor I couldnít recognize who was who.

I saw a child on the floor was injured. I thought he was the only injured one so I took him to the clinic. When I came back my nephew told me that there were more injured people. I tried to pull my daughter from the rubble but I couldnít. I heard her calling for help but I couldnít reach her.

I put the injured down on the floor but there was already 5 other injured people already on the floor. There was death inside and injured people outside.

The foreign countries please listen to me listen to the others, what should we do?

Interviewer: How many people were killed?

AZ: 11 people, 5 people from my immediate family 3 of my sisters, and my mother, three nephews,  and three of my older brothers kids.

We lost a lot from our village, there are some who are still missing...



Mohamed Ahmadzai

MA: My name is Mohamed Ahmadzai. That day was a Friday and there were people and kids walking around all over the village.

It was around noon when the bombing started. The battle raged on for hours and at 05:00 p.m we still couldnít return to our homes because the warplanes were flying overhead. We tried to talk to the village elders to tell them that we wanted to take the bodies of our relatives for a proper burial.

We were being killed in great numbers if you go look there you will see death and bodies all over the place.

Interviewer: Were there any Taliban around?

MA: I swear to God that the Taliban were at least 200 km away from this location where innocent people were massacred.

Interviewer: How many injured people were taken to the hospital?

MA: There were 12 year old and 3 month old babies most of them women and children that were martyred.

Interviewer: What are your requests now?

MA: We want to make sure that these types of killings will not take place again in the future and that the government will provide safety and take care of us.

Interviewer: How many people from your family were lost?

MA: 9 people including my uncle were martyred. 4 people from my immediate family, two of my daughters my sister and my wife, and 5 additional people from my uncleís family were killed.                 

Interviewer: Where is the graveyard?

MA: Sangeen Graveyard and Gurgurai graveyard. We buried all of them there.

We gather all of the body parts, some were missing legs or heads we placed them in a bag and buried them. We were able to identify them through the clothes they were wearing and by their shoes. The body parts we couldnít identify we put into a piece of cloth and then buried them. Those chunks of flesh, blood and bone were from so many people not just one, but we couldnít identify them so we put those body parts into an individual grave and buried them as though they belonged to one person...

Unnamed Sangin Resident 1

USR1: I am from Sangeen Province. In all of my experiences not the Russians or the Taliban ever did what they (N.A.T.O.) did. Our people go out in the morning to get bread; one elder did this and got a bullet in his head.

The people thought that they could find refuge in the Mosque thinking that it was safer... When I drank my tea and finished my prayer, I decided to look at my watch to see what time is was, that is when I heard the sound of dropping bombs and the resulting explosions.

When I went outside to see what happened there was body parts of women and children everywhere. I cried for help I wanted to go to the government post and tell them to kill the rest of us too as we have nothing to live for anymore!

They were dropping one bomb after another. When night fell we were sure we would get killed as well. 

In the morning we see bodies with heads, blood and guts everywhere, arms here and legs there. All of my loved ones who were still alive were soaked in blood. We tried to go and identify the bodies; everyone was looking for there missing relatives. There was so much sorrow and pain from those people who were lost in shock.

It was around the afternoon of the next day when the Americans came. We have traditions to sacrifice animals but it was us who were sacrificed. The bombings should have killed us too in the night but we were still alive. Now there is fire from the sky falling on us.

My house was on fire so I opened the window asking for help, the Americans came towards me I went outside to get some water to put the fire out  they were already there and did help with the fire.

Interviewer: Now the delegation has arrived from Kabul with the Governor in attendance, what do you want to say to them?

USR1: I will tell them to give us a refuge where we may find security and live in peace. I will tell them not to burn our animals or bomb our women and children. The enemy hits them and they hit us!

Interviewer: Some say that the number of dead is up to 50, and the number of injured is almost twice that. What is your estimate?

USR1: The number of injured is unknown to me but what is clear is the number of relatives that I lost, that I do know. The number of children, women, men, and elders we lost is 8 people.

Interviewer: How many children were there?

USR1: There was my wife, my daughter that was a newly-wed, my daughter-in-law, my 12 year old son, 3 year old grandson, 2 year old grandson, 1 year old granddaughter, and a 3 year old granddaughter. All in all I had 8 people martyred.

Interviewer: How many injured?

USR1: One of my daughters was buried under rubble; I rescued her and tried to get her treated.

Unnamed Sangin Resident 2

USR2: My wife was on the floor with my grand son on her chest. She was shot in her stomach and the kid was shot in the chest.

The Red Cross hospital is the closest one to our village. They refused to admit the victims and told us to go to the Chinese Hospital. They gave us a rental car even though I had no money.

By the time we reached the Chinese Hospital they had died... The foreigners donít care about us. The driver told us this happens a lot.

The people of the village came to you for help. Yes they did we took them to the Red Cross hospital they refused us and told us to go to the Chinese Hospital. By the time we got there they were already dead. The bullet entered her stomach and went out her back the kid was dead too. I have never experienced death like this before.


:: Article nr. 68624 sent on 07-aug-2010 01:35 ECT


Link: rethinkafghanistan.com/

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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