U.S. Admits Killing Afghan Women During Special Ops Raid

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An American-led military command in Afghanistan has admitted culpability in the killing of three Afghan women, despite having previously denied both involvement in the incident and taking actions to cover it up.

The women were killed in February, during an American Special Operations assault that went awry. The raid, which took place in a southeastern Afghanistan home, also took the lives of two men. Military officials had already admitted that those men were shot when they emerged from the home with Kalashnikov rifles to see what was going on. They, and the three slain women, were attending a party to celebrate a birth.

One of the women who was shot was a pregnant mother of six; another was a pregnant mother of 10. Initially, officials with NATO made a statement that during the raid, the military command discovered the “bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed,” and later said that the women were apparent stabbing victims who had in fact died hours before the raid took place.

Yet an Afghan-led investigation team found that there had been signs of evidence tampering at the crime scene, including walls that had been washed and had bullets dug out of them. The Times of London has also reported that the American forces actually removed bullets from the women’s bodies, before cleaning the wounds with alcohol.

Late Sunday, the NATO command in Kabul changed its story, saying that “international forces”–the mission had been conducted by both American Special Operations forces and Afghan forces—had killed the women. In a statement, they also said that “investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to a lack of forensic evidence,” but had “concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.”

NATO officials have not admitted that any of the participants in the raid engaged in a coverup or tampered with evidence.

Special Operations attacks which go awry, like this one, are thought by Afghans to be responsible for many civilian deaths caused by NATO forces, and are inflaming public opinion. Some experts also say that they are fomenting support for the Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has widely criticized Western forces for their military presence in Afghanistan, and for the killing of civilians.

 

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