The last seven days have been bad for US and Afghan civilians in Afghanistan. On Saturday, a young US diplomat was killed when a bomb exploded near the convoy she was riding in. On Sunday, ten Afghan children were killed and other civilians were wounded in a US airstrike that also killed a Taliban leader.
Excerpts of the stories and links to the full stories follow.
6 Americans, doctor killed in Afghan attacks
Associated Press, Saturday, April 6, 2013
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat and an Afghan doctor Saturday in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months.
The violence … illustrates the instability plaguing the nation as foreign forces work to pull nearly all their combat troops out of the country by the end of 2014.
The attacks came just days after insurgents stormed a courthouse, killing more than 46 people in one of the deadliest attacks of the war, now in its 12th year.
The three US service members, two US civilians and the doctor were killed when the group was struck by an explosion while traveling to donate books to students in a school in the south, officials and the State Department said.
Officials said the explosion occurred just as a coalition convoy drove past a caravan of vehicles carrying the governor of Zabul province to the same event.
Another American civilian was killed in a separate insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the US military said in a statement.
It was the deadliest day for Americans since Aug. 16, when seven American service members were killed in two attacks in Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban insurgency. Six were killed when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents and one soldier died in a roadside bomb explosion.
A US official who spoke on condition of anonymity said several other Americans and Afghans, possibly as many as nine, were wounded. The State Department said four of their staff were wounded, one critically.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in Zabul and said the bomber was seeking to target either a coalition convoy or the governor. “We were waiting for one of them,” Ahmadi said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It was our good luck that both appeared at the same time.”
The deaths bring the number of foreign military troops killed this year to 30, including 22 Americans. A total of six foreign civilians have died in Afghanistan so far this year, according to an AP count.
US airstrike kills Taliban leader, Afghan children
By Azam Ahmed, New York Times, April 8, 2013
KABUL — A US military airstrike in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan killed as many as 18 people, including at least one senior Taliban commander, but also women and children, raising the thorny issue of civilian casualties for the third time in roughly a week.
The attack occurred during a joint mission of Afghan and US special operations forces targeting a high-profile Taliban commander in Kunar Province, Afghan officials said Sunday. … US forces called in an airstrike to level the home of the commander, Ali Khan, officials said.
In addition to killing Khan and at least four other Taliban fighters, as many as 10 children were killed in the strike, and at least five women were wounded, said Abdul Zahir Safi, the governor of Shigal district, where the attack occurred. Afghan officials believed they were the relatives and children of the Taliban commander.
The deaths of Afghan civilians in NATO strikes have long been a sticking point between President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies. Harsh criticism by Karzai led to stronger rules on airstrike use by US forces last year, effectively halting air attacks on population centers and homes.
Civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces have dropped dramatically since then, though such strikes bring intense anger among the Afghan population when they happen.
Karzai has basically prohibited his own armed forces from requesting supporting NATO airstrikes after an incident in the same district of Kunar, Shigal, in February 2012 killed 10 civilians.
On Sunday, Karzai’s office issued a statement criticizing the deaths in the Kunar airstrikes, and called for an investigation into civilians deaths there.
The civilian death toll on Saturday added to two incidents in Ghazni Province in the past eight days, when 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 of the allegations of civilian casualties remain under investigation. …
US military commanders have insisted that airstrikes can be crucial to protecting soldiers’ lives…