U.S. Drone Strikes Kill Children
It has been reported that an American military airstrike in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, April 6 that targeted a senior Taliban commander finally ended up in killing 18 people including women and children.
Following an intense fighting on the ground American air support was called to flatten the home of the commander whose name has been released as Ali Khan.
In addition to killing Ali Khan and several other Taliban fighters, at least 10 children died, and at least 5 women were wounded, said Abdul Zahir Safi, the governor of the Shigal district, where the attack occurred. Afghan officials said they believed the women and children were relatives of the Taliban commander.
The civilian casualties on Saturday added to the death toll from two episodes in Ghazni Province in the past eight days, in which four police officers were killed during a NATO airstrike and two children died in a helicopter attack. A spokesman for the coalition forces said all accusations of civilian casualties are still under investigation. And military officials reiterated that all three recent strikes were called in by international forces rather than by Afghan troops, The New York Times reported.
Earlier this year, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 176 children have been murdered in Pakistan alone. And along with drone attacks, an average of 4.8 children are killed per day in Afghanistan where earlier this year, a U.S. sergeant is reported to have killed 9 children.
According to estimates by the Bureau, the US has conducted 366 drone strikes since 2004, killing as many 3,581 people, including 884 civilians, and wounding 1,465. About 314 of those drone strikes have been carried out in the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, a month-long nationwide anti-drone campaign kicked off in New York on Thursday, April 4 with a number of activist groups taking part in demos to draw public attention to the use of unmanned aerial vehicle in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries.
Children killed by US Drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan" class="caption" />Dozens of protesters from “Grandmothers Against the War” gathered in New York City to denounce the US government’s use of drones. They chanted slogans and called placards like “Drones fly, children die.” The grandmothers protest kicked off what participants say will be a month of rallies called ‘April Days of Action’, organised by the New York-based group ‘Know Drones’.
There are demos planned across the United States at drone-manufacturing plants and universities that research drone technology. “Too many civilians have been killed by these drones, and that includes women and children,” an activist at the demonstration said.
The protest in New York will be followed by three days of protests outside the facilities of companies that make drones, including at San Diego-based General Atomics.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson said last month in a special statement that United States drone attacks are “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” and are being conducted without the consent of Islamabad, after a three-day fact finding mission to Pakistan.
- Asian Tribune -