January 1, 2010
Recent reports indicate that a new stage may have been reached in the war in Afghanistan. Secret operations of CIA and special forces appear to have stepped up their infamous night raids, which have induced fear in much of the local population.
We saw in a blog post a few weeks ago that up to 15 civilians in Laghman were killed in a ground forces operation apparently carried out under NATO command. NATO itself, after initial denials, appeared to acknowledge civilian casualties, but was characteristically vague about it.
Now, according to the article below, it seems that the attack-cum-massacre was carried out at night and, according to locals, perpetrated by US special forces on the ground. (The Washington Post, however, mistakenly reported as late as Dec 30 that the attack was an airstrike.)
US forces 'like to kill us’
Sayed Karim - The National
December 28. 2009
... According to witnesses, US troops entered a number of houses near the provincial capital, Mehtar Lam, in an overnight operation [on Dec 7/8]. The victims included Mohammed Ismail, whose 10-year-old son, Rafiullah, described what happened: "When the soldiers came to our house, my father asked them, 'Who are you?’ Then they shot him in the head and told us, 'Be quiet and tell us where the weapons are’."
Said Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for Laghman’s governor, said insurgents had previously staged attacks against officials and foreign troops in the area. He acknowledged that 12 people – including a woman – had apparently died in the raid, which locals reported was carried out by US Special Forces...
Discontent with the government and the occupation has inevitably fuelled support for the Taliban among the local population. Despite still being relatively secure compared with much of eastern Afghanistan, there has been growing rebel activity here in recent months as the insurgents edge closer and closer to neighbouring Kabul...
Gulzar Sankerwal, chairman of the provincial council, said: "The Taliban do not fight face to face. This is guerrilla fighting so if more troops arrive, they will not solve the problem. When the commander in Kabul asked Obama for the extra troops, he knew the USA would end up with one achievement, and that is more civilian casualties." ... (link)
Note that in spite of (and because of) the two Obama-ordered troop surges, the insurgency continues to spread, moving closer to Kabul.
So it turns out that the deaths occurred in a nighttime raid, one of what appears to be an increasing number of such operations. The Dec 7/8 disaster was recently repeated in Kunar on Dec 27 and again in Baghlan on Dec 28/29 - an incident which has gone largely unnoticed in the media, though it has now been overshadowed by the Dec 30 incident in Helmand - a daytime missile strike by NATO forces. AFP has more on the Dec 27 Kunar incident:
Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had no information on any operations or casualties in Kunar.
A senior Western military official told AFP that US special forces have been conducting operations against militants in the border regions of Kunar.
"They have been killing a lot of Taliban and capturing a lot of Taliban," he said.
The operations were conducted independently of ISAF, which number more than 110,000 fighting to eradicate the Taliban, he said... (link)
And yet that may not be the end of the intriguing details. While locals in Kunar say the 8 teenagers were killed in a US special forces raid, AFP reports that they may have been CIA operatives:
NATO forces have disputed the results of the Afghan probe, saying the foreigners involved were non-military Americans on a sanctioned operation who fired in self-defence after being shot at by villagers. (link)
US special forces like the Green Berets or Navy Seals are military personnel while CIA officers are not. Of course, neither are mercenaries such as Blackwater. It seems possible that "non-military Americans" could refer to either CIA or mercs.
In all likelihood, the recent spate of nighttime raids were undertaken by a mix of CIA, special forces and perhaps mercenaries. CIA agents are known to work alongside special forces in Afghanistan and recent reports about Blackwater revealed their involvement in CIA operations there.
Finally, the recent attack in Baghlan, courtesy of the Afghan press since few if any western media reported the incident:
'Four civilians killed in Baghlan air raid'
Habib Rahman Sherzai - Dec 29, 2009
PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok) - Four civilians have reportedly been killed and eight others wounded in a fresh air strike by foreign forces in northern Baghlan province, residents alleged on Tuesday.
The overnight attack took place in Kohna Qala area of Baghlan-i-Markazi district, residents told Pajhwok Afghan News...
In the last night air raid, the dead included a father and his three sons, who were killed while running to escape the bombardment, a teacher at the Jamiat Aburjaee High School in the area, Karim Safi, told Pajhwok Afghan News. A student of the school, Karim Javed, said that the air raid also left many people wounded including a student of his school.
Head of the district hospital, Abdul Qahir Qanit, said they had received eight injured people delivered to the hospital with a woman and a child in a critical condition... (link)