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The massacre at Azizabad, Herat

Professor Marc Herold

732_html_6cc5e5ef.jpg

September 1, 2008

In memory of

The massacre at Azizabad, Herat


(5-) 76-91 civilians killed (61 children, 15 women, 15 men) including:


91 victims’ names

Father’s name

Age

Sex

Abdul Raza

Lal Muhammad Khan

45

Male

Tahir

Shahnawaz Khan

38

Male

Borjan

Shahnawaz Khan

82

Male

Habib

Muhammad Ghaus

76

Male

Noor Muhammad

Dost Muhammad

82

Male

Abdul Rashid

Muhammad

40

Male

Muhammad

Saedo Khan

30

Male

Sher Ahmad

Mubeen

35

Male

Subhat

Khuda-ul-Rahim

50

Male

Abdul Zahir

Driver

40

Male

Muhammad Ali

Mir Afghan

90

Male

Muhammad Khan

Muhammad Ali

50

Male

Muhammad Lal

Muhammad Ali

40

Male

Bahawal Haq

Abdul Karim

60

Male

Abdul Aleem

Muhammad Khan

18

Male

Wife of Raza

Muhammad Ali

30

Female

Wife of Taimur Shah

Baab-ul-uddin

32

Female

Wife of Tahir

Mullah Ghani

31

Female

Wife of Borjan

-

73

Female

Paiki

Borjan

17

Female

Suraya

Golo Khan

32

Female

Sameera

Gul Agha

25

Female

Shireen

Mullah Mannan

60

Female

Zulaikha

Noor Muhammad

35

Female

Bari Gul

Noor Muhammad

22

Female

Wife of Saedo Khan

-

27

Female

Gulrukh

Bor Khan

30

Female

Wife of Saat

Musa Khan

25

Female

Mother of Muhammad Amin

Abdullah

60

Female

Wife of Baab-ul-uddin

-

50

Female

Seya Mo

Reza Khan

14

Female

Sameera

Reza Khan

8

Female

Saeed Ahmad

Reza

6

Female

Arzoo

Taimur Shah

12

Female

Roma

Taimur Shah

10

Female

Kibra

Taimur Shah

8

Female

Roya

Taimur Shah

5

Female

Aman

Taimur Shah

8 mos

Male

Maldar

Gul Ahmad

15

Female

Saleem

Muhammad Tahir

8

Male

Sakeena

Gul Ahmad

18

Female

Naseema

Gul Ahmad

8

Female

Muhammad Arif

Momin

7

Male

Muhammad Asif

Momin

5

Male

Fareba

Jan Agha

5

Female

Negina

Jan Agha

2

Female

Mir Agha

Daud

14

Male

Muhammad Agha

Daud

15

Male

Ghulam Siddique

Daud

1

Male

Aqila

Daud

7

Female

Sakeena

Daud

5

Female

Shakeela

Daud

3

Female

Omaid

Suhoolat

3

Male

Durrani

Suhoolat

7

Male

Gulalai

Suhoolat

5

Female

Jan Sher

Shah Alam

16

Male

Khuda Dad

Habeeb

9

Male

Nabi Jan

Noor Muhammad

10

Male

Taza Gul

Noor Muhammad

3

Male

Maida Gul

Noor Muhammad

2

Female

Zia Gul

Noor Muhammad

1

Female

Saeed Bibi

Bari Gul

6 mos

Female

Sher Ahmad

Bari Gul

3

Male

Bibi Gul

Muhammad Alam

4

Female

Shafiqa

Sardar

2

Female

This number is missing in the list. i.e. from 65 jumped to 67

Bashar

Abdul Rashid

7

Male

Son of

Abdul Rashid

10

Male

Son of

Abdul Rashid

3

Male

Son of

Abdul Rashid

8

Male

Daughter of

Abdul Rashid

12

Female

Daughter of

Abdul Rashid

5

Female

Daughter of

Saedo Khan

9

Female

Son of

Saedo Khan

4

Male

Daughter of

Saedo Khan

7

Female

Ghani Jan

Abdul Hakeem

7

Male

Rahima

Abdul Hakeem

3

Female

Shafi

Abdul Hakeem

4 mos

Male

Son of

Subhat

8

Male

Daughter of

Subhat

5

Female

Gul Ghotay

Subhat

10

Female

Akhtar Muhammad

Muhammad Lal

6

Male

Khudai Rahim

Muhammad Lal

3

Male

Qamar Gul

Muhammad Lal

10

Female

Zuhra Gul

Muhammad Lal

5

Female

Wakeel Ahmad

Amanullah

8

Male

Nazaneen

Muhammad Khan

8

Female

Rahim Gul

Khan

9

Male

Ibrahim

Khan

12

Male

Ismatullah

Farooq

13

Male

6 yr old girl who died later

n.a.

6

Female


Wounded:


Name

Father’s Name

Sex

Abdul Ghafoor

Fazil-ul-haq

Male

Siddiqa

Abdul Hamid

Female

Saleema

Abdul Hamid

Female

Baran Shah

Muhammad Khan

Male

Abdul Waali

Muhammad Khan

Male

Habiba

Abdul Hamid

Female



between 2 – 8 AM on August 22, 2008


in the village of Azizabad located 4 miles due east of the Shindand air base and due south of Herat city in Herat Province. A ground force led by U.S. Special Forces (7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) based in Shindand), allegedly came under fire as it approached the village, carrying out a midnight raid to allegedly apprehend a Taliban commander, Mullah Siddiq. The U.S. Special Forces called-in close air support and a fierce bombardment of the village ensued involving both ground and air fire (including from a US Air Force Special Operations AC-130 aerial gunship, Apache attack helicopters and Predator drones). The U.S. bombs struck a large gathering of people who had congregated in Azizabad to honor a local leader who had died months earlier. A resident, Fatima, 25, explained from her hospital bed in Herat, where she wept and cursed those who carried out the air strike. “We were holding a memorial service in our home,” she said, tears running down her face. “Suddenly the infidels attacked and I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was in hospital, and they told me that all of my family were dead and already buried. Was my two-year-old child a terrorist? Then am I not also a terrorist? Why did they let me live?” On Friday morning, Ghulam Azrat, 50, director of the middle school in Azizabad, said he collected 60 bodies after the bombing. He told the A.P. by phone, “We put the bodies in the main mosque. Most of these dead bodies were children and women. It took all morning to collect them.” National Public Radio’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson visited Azizabad and reported,


Abdul Rashid treads gently across the rubble that was once his uncle's home in Azizabad, Afghanistan. He spots a little girl's shoe, caked in dried blood. He picks it up and waves it angrily in a visitor's face. "Does this look like it fits a Taliban fighter?" Rashid says. Still clinging to the tiny shoe, Rashid takes a few more steps and picks up a torn woman's veil." Does this look like something the Taliban would wear? Can you believe it? This is what Afghanistan has become," Rashid says, his rage dissolving into tears. The tribal elder says he doesn't know how to help his clan come to terms with the attack by U.S. and Afghan forces on his village last Friday. He pages through a handwritten report that lists the names and ages of 91 dead, most of them relatives. Sixty were children, and at least 15 more were women, say U.N. and Afghan officials, who have gone to Azizabad to investigate the incident. Rashid says the latest victim, a 6-year-old girl, was buried the day before. Afghan officials say Rashid's neighborhood, which was the target of the military operation, was packed with visitors the morning of the attack. They were there to attend a memorial ceremony honoring his late brother [Timor Shah], a local strongman. Rashid says vats of meat, rice and potatoes were being prepared for the scores of mourners when the soldiers attacked.

The photo below (by Soraya Nelson) shows Multan, 15, in a prayer vigil in front of his brother-in-law’s grave killed in the assault upon Azizabad. Multan said the 22 year old had just gotten married a couple of weeks ago:


Nearby, a 27-year-old policeman named Daud wanders around in a tearful daze. He clings to a tattered piece of black cloth. It is part of the outfit he says his youngest daughter, aged 3, had on when she was killed, along with her five siblings and his wife. Daud says he was at a highway checkpoint far away when the soldiers and war planes came. Now, he doesn't know what he'll do. But he says one thing is for sure — he's quitting the force. He says he can no longer protect his country, not after his country failed to protect his family.

An angry survivor in Azizabad shouts anti-U.S. slogans in front of her destroyed home (photo by Fraidoon Pooyaa, A.P.):

Gulbuddin, another resident told reporters from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), “Americans think all Afghans are terrorists and they send rockets and missiles against us. I myself buried more than 50 women and children. Are all of them terrorists?”

BBC Persia sent reporters to speak with residents of Azizabad. They reported speaking with villagers,


My name is Ahmad Shah Andiwal from Azizabad village. I am talking from the area, which was bombarded yesterday night. We will continue our protest until we get a clear answer because nothing is left for us’’. ‘’A man was killed a few months before and there was a religious ceremony for his death. But someone had reported to the Government officials that Taliban fighters were brought up to the village to attack the airport of Shindand district. I was there and I did not witness any Taliban fighters or Al Qaeda members.

Nur Ahmad, 55, was saved by a rescue team in Azizabad after being buried in rubble by the U.S. attack. He commented to IWPR,

The Taliban were better than this puppet government and its masters. The Taliban would at least distinguish between civilians and enemies. But these thugs think everybody is their enemy.

Two survivors stand next to the remains of their home
(Photo by Reza Shirmohammadi, Agence France Presse)


Boy carrying his belongings next to rubble of his home (Photo by Fraidoon Pooyaa, A.P.)


Zinat Gul, 24, wounded in the US bombing lies in hospital bed in Heart (Photo by Fraidoon Pooya, A.P.)

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said its investigators on-site concluded 91 people had perished: 59 children, 19 women and 13 men. Ahmad Nader Nadery, head of the AIHRC, said 76 of the victims belonged to one large extended family – that of Timor Shah’s brother who is named Reza. Reza was killed in the assault. Nadery confirmed reports from villagers that a memorial ceremony was being held for a deputy militia commander allied with the Afghan police named Timor Shah, who had died in a personal dispute several months ago. Because of the memorial, relatives and friends from outside Azizabad were staying overnight in village homes, he said. Government officials who travelled to the village of Azizabad in Herat province said the death toll had risen to 95 from 76, making it one of the deadliest bombing strikes on civilians in six years of war.

Afghan men look at destroyed house in Azizabad village in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug 23. 2008

An Afghan man prepare offers prayers beside graves of people killed in a US air strike at Azizabad village in Herat province (AFP photo)

True to form, the U.S. military insists that it struck compounds harboring a Taliban leader and his troops, killing 25 “Taliban.”. It admitted that 5 civilians were killed (2 women and 3 children) but they were “connected to the militants.” Recall too that just some months ago, Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, announced to the world that the U.S. military had “all but eliminated civilian casualties” in pre-planned air strikes. It’s certainly unclear how pre-planned these midnight air strikes were. The European Union in Brussels expressed ‘consternation’ that more than 90 civilians were killed in US-led strikes.

The day after the massacre, villagers gathered in protest. When Karzai’s soldiers tried to distribute food and clothes (and $2,000 “condolence” money for each dead victim), they pelted the troops with stones. Karzai’s soldiers fired into the crowd, injuring up to 8 people (including one child critically). Ghulam Azrat recounted, “The People are very angry. They told the soldiers, ‘We don’t need your food; we don’t need your clothes. We want our children. We want our relatives.” Another resident, Hamidullah, said, “They destroyed our houses, killed dozens of people and they still send us wheat.” He added they did not want wheat but rather punishment of the criminals.

Nek Mohammad Ishaq, a provincial council member in Herat and a member of the government delegations sent to investigate in Azizabad, sat with villagers on the floor of the mosque. Ishaq said a man walked in, holding a hander kerchief which he wanted everyone to see. In it were body parts of children: fingers, bits of hand and feet.

Killed in a 6-hour air and ground assault by U.S and Afghan commando forces



:: Article nr. 46866 sent on 01-sep-2008 17:33 ECT

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