Media are reporting that a U.S. soldier shot and killed civilians in Afghanistan. Most stories about this incident are currently sourced to officials in the government in Afghanistan. Some areas in the country have been destabilized by Taliban eager to regain control over the country’s government.
Most U.S. media accounts like one BBC story are based on statements from “senior local officials” whose tribal affiliations aren’t questioned by journalists. Agence France Presse quoted an elder from Najeeban village and a man who claimed some of the dead were his family.
Reuters did put the incident in a deeper political perspective:
“Panjwayi district is about 35 km (22 miles) west of the provincial capital Kandahar city. The district is considered the spiritual home of the Taliban and is believed to be a hive of insurgent activity.”
Taliban have fanned the flames of unrest against both coalition troops and Afghan National Army troops since Korans were burned on a base after detainees allegedly wrote messages on their pages.
Statements from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, including one from the ISAF commander and one from the deputy commander, did not list the number of dead. The commander said in his statement, “We will maintain custody of the U.S. service member alleged to have perpetrated this attack.”
The well-established blog Long War Journal featured part of a post from the blog ‘From the Voice of Jihad.’ The 'Jihad' blog is an obviously pro-Taliban site claiming 50 bodies have been found.
The ISAF deputy commander said, “An investigation is already underway and every effort will be made to establish the facts and punish anyone responsible as appropriate.”
Caution is in order regarding any reports on this incident until forensics have been completed and a full investigation has concluded. Past experiences with local pro-Taliban villagers’ claims and political motivations suggest Americans reserve judgment until the facts are known. U.S. media have often erred in past coverage of incidents related to the U.S. military.
Because of the disposal of the Korans—technically blasphemed by the detainees—U.S. troops have been shot in cold blood by some of the men they were training.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/March 11, 2012)
Related at The US Report: Milblogger’s post a backgrounder…