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NZ troops / civilian deaths in Afghanistan

17 December 2001

Kia ora,

The announcement that two NZ airforce Hercules are about to land somewhere in Afghanistan on some kind of secret mission possibly involving the deployment of NZ SAS troops was made following today's Cabinet meeting. The decision to send the Hercules (and SAS) was made by a 'War Cabinet' comprising Helen Clark, Jim Anderton, Mark Burton, Phil Goff and Michael Cullen. Goodness, has there been a declaration of war that we've somehow missed ? Apparently they have informed the UN Security Council that NZ has joined the military assault on the people of Afghanistan. This was proudly announced as though it gives some legitimacy to this shameful action.

Last week a study was released by Marc W. Herold, Professor of Economics, International Relations, and Women's Studies at the University of New Hampshire (USA) which shows that more than 3,500 civilian have been killed in Afghanistan since the US led war began. His data, from 8 October to 10 December, is available on-line at http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/afghanistan-new.xls

In a press release, Professory Herold said "I decided to do the study because I suspected that the modern weaponry was not what it was advertised to be. I was concerned that there would be significant civilian casualties caused by the bombing, and I was able to find some mention of casualties in the foreign press but almost nothing in the U.S. press."

For each day since October 7, when the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan began, he lists the number of casualties, location, type of weapon used, and source(s) of information. Following are several examples from his daily calculations:

* On October 11, two U.S. jets bombed the mountain village of Karam, comprised of 60 mud houses, during dinner and evening prayer time, killing 100-160 people. Sources: DAWN, (English language Pakistani daily newspaper), the Guardian of London, the Independent, International Herald Tribune, the Scotsman, the Observer, and the BBC News.

* On October 13, in the early morning, an F-18 dropped 2,000 lb. JDAM bombs on the Qila Meer Abas neighborhood, 2 kms. South of the Kabul airport, killing four people. Sources: Afghan Islamic Press, Los Angeles Times, Frontier Post, Pakistan Observer, the Guardian of London, and the BBC News.

* On October 31, in a pre-dawn raid, an F-18 dropped a 2,000 lb. JDAM bomb on a Red Crescent clinic, killing 15 - 25 people. Sources: DAWN, the Times of London, the Independent, the Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, and Agence France Presse.

Professor Herold has sought whenever possible to cross-corroborate accounts of civilian casualties. He relied upon British, Canadian, and Australian newspapers; Indian newspapers, especially The Times of India; three Pakistani daily newspapers; the Singapore News; Afghan Islamic Press; Agence France Press; Pakistan News Service; Reuters; BBC News Online; Al Jazeera; and a variety of other reputable sources, including the United Nations and other relief agencies.

The Pentagon has repeatedly denied reports of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and most U.S. media outlets have qualified their reports of casualties with the statement "could not be independently confirmed."

But Professor Herold has been able to confirm the number of casualties and has found that the number is climbing toward 4,000. "People have to know that there is a human cost to war, and that this is a war with thousands of casualties," said Herold. "These were poor people to begin with, and, on top of that, they had absolutely nothing to do with the events of September 11."

Edited from the original press release which can be found at http://www.commondreams.org/news2001/1210-01.htm

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