[R-G] No proof Afghan teen executed, NATO says

Anthony Fenton fentona at shaw.ca
Tue Nov 21 08:20:52 MST 2006


No proof Afghan teen executed, NATO says
Soldiers from Europe took part in October raid, alliance says
By BILL GRAVELAND The Canadian Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — NATO apologized Monday for civilian  
casualties in a deadly raid on a village west of Kandahar last month,  
but said it found no proof to substantiate claims that a wounded  
Afghan teen was killed execution-style by alliance soldiers.

The boy’s father, Abdul Karim says his wife, son and two daughters  
were instantly killed when a bomb ripped through their mud home in  
Ashogha.

Another son, aged 16, was only wounded in the blast.

Karim said he tried to conceal him under a blanket but when soldiers  
searched the home they found his son and shot him execution-style.

Karim, who along with his 18-year-old son, Sakhi Jan, were the only  
members of the family to survive, said at the time he was unable to  
identify the nationality of the soldiers, only that they looked foreign.

Canadians had also taken part in the attack, but NATO spokesman Maj.  
Luke Knittig said Monday in defending the operation that the soldiers  
in question were from a "European country and contributor to the  
mission."

He wouldn’t be more specific.

Knittig said an investigation by the alliance had found that the  
operation against the village was carried out "within the rules of  
engagement and the village was a legitimate target."

"That doesn’t mean for a minute that didn’t hit us in the gut that a  
father has had to bury his son and that a teenage boy who had a  
future ahead of him was denied that," Knittig added in a telephone  
interview with The Canadian Press from Kabul.

Nine civilians were killed and several more wounded when a coalition  
air strike rained bombs and rockets on their mud homes in the village  
just west of Kandahar.

Karim has been released from hospital but his surviving son, Sakhi  
Jan, is facing an operation on his foot this week.

"I am not feeling well," he said. "My father was better than before  
and has been sent home."

The NATO attack to root out rebels blamed for a spate of roadside  
bombings came as villagers were stirring for their pre-dawn meals.

The NATO troops had reason to believe the mission had been  
compromised, said Knittig. "They ended up having to take some quicker  
actions than they had otherwise anticipated."

But as for the claims that the teenager was executed by a foreign  
soldier, the investigation found no proof of that, he said.

"The actions the soldiers took within that compound were against  
known insurgents. I don’t know if we can completely know whether the  
16-year-old boy was an insurgent.

"The father says he wasn’t and there is no indication that he was, so  
that’s truly a tragic consequence."

Knittig says investigators met with the boy’s father immediately  
after the attack. The investigation is now complete and no action  
will be taken against the soldiers involved he said.Knittig said he  
believed Karim was given compensation for his loss, but Sakhi Jan  
denied that.


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