Afghanistan: And we ask “Why do they hate us?”

"We were walking, I was holding my grandson's hand, then there was a loud noise and everything went white. When I opened my eyes, everybody was screaming. I was lying metres from where I had been, I was still holding my grandson's hand but the rest of him was gone. I looked around and saw pieces of bodies everywhere. I couldn't make out which part was which." So says Hajj Khan, one of four elderly men escorting the bride's party that day.

The plane came swooping low over the remote ravine. Below, a bridal party was making its way to the groom's village. The first bomb hit a large group of children who had run on ahead of the main procession. It killed most of them instantly.

A few minutes later, the plane returned and dropped another bomb, right in the centre of the group. This time the victims were almost all women. Somehow the bride and two girls survived but as they scrambled down the hillside, desperately trying to get away from the plane, a third bomb caught them.

Relatives from the groom's village said it was impossible to identify the remains. They buried the 47 victims in 28 graves.

Stories like this are relatively common in today's Afghanistan. More than 600 civilians have died in NATO and US air strikes this year. The number of innocents killed this way has almost doubled from last year, and tripled from the year before that. These attacks are weakening support for the Afghan government and turning more and more people against the foreign occupation of the country.

"The Taliban grow very strong in the aftermath of each attack," said Sharif Hassanyar, a former interpreter with US Special Forces.

"The anti-American feelings in Afghanistan are not just coming from conservative or religious elements," said Shukria Barakzai, a female MP. "The anti-western sentiment is directly because of the military actions, the civilian casualties, and the lack of respect by foreign troops for Afghan culture."

[The Guardian]

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