Monday, April 05, 2010

Afghanistan: Investigation determines international forces were responsible for civilian deaths

Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan

A thorough joint investigation into the events that occurred in the Gardez district of Paktiya Province Feb. 12, has determined that international forces were responsible for the deaths of three women who were in the same compound where two men were killed by the joint Afghan-international patrol searching for a Taliban insurgent.

The two men, who were later determined not to be insurgents, were shot and killed by the joint patrol after they showed what appeared to be hostile intent by being armed. While investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence, they concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.

"We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families," said Brig Gen. Eric Tremblay, ISAF Spokesperson. "The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taliban insurgent and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety. We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families."

"We are continuing our dialogue with our Afghan security partners to improve coordination for future operations and help prevent such mistakes from happening again," said Tremblay.

The investigation also reviewed the information released by ISAF Joint Command, ISAF and the Afghan Ministry of Interior, and found the releases issued shortly after the operation were based on a lack of cultural understanding by the joint force and the chain of command. The statement noted the women had been bound and gagged, but this information was taken from an initial report by the international members of the joint force who were not familiar with Islamic burial customs.

"We regret any confusion caused by the initial statements and are committed to improving our coordination and understanding of Afghan culture and customs," said Tremblay.

ISAF officials will discuss the results of the investigation with the family of the individuals killed, apologize for what happened, and will provide compensation in accordance with local customs.

ISAF Public Affairs Office

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