KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) – NATO forces in Afghanistan were investigating on Friday whether civilians were among scores of people burned to death when they carried out an air strike against two hijacked fuel tankers.
…Kunduz province Governor Mohammad Omar said as many as 90 people were feared killed, burned alive in a giant fireball.
NATO demonstrates why I don’t by the “Counterinsurgency: Now Low in Civilian Casualties!” sales pitch:
Lieutenant-Commander Christine Sidenstricker, press officer for the U.S. and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said Afghan authorities had reported two fuel trucks hijacked. NATO aircraft spotted them on a river bank.
“After observing that only insurgents were in the area, the local ISAF commander ordered air strikes which destroyed the fuel trucks and killed a large number of insurgents,” she said.
“My brother was burned when the aircraft bombed the fuel tankers. I don’t know whether he is dead or alive,” said weeping villager Ghulam Yahya, one of dozens of relatives gathered outside Kunduz Central Hospital in the provincial capital.
In other news:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled on Thursday that he would be open to sending additional troops, asserting the war was not “slipping through the administration’s fingers.”
UPDATE: This story is very fluid, and the numbers quoted above are the very conservative estimates. Reports from the scene indicate that few bodies are in one piece. The health minister from Kabul indicates that “Around 200 to 250 villagers were believed to have gathered” around the trucks before the bombs fell, and the trucks were, obviously, highly combustible before hit with ordinance. I will keep updating this post throughout the day.
(Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You can learn more about civilian casualties caused by the war in Afghanistan by watching Rethink Afghanistan (Part Four): Civilian Casualties, or by visiting http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.)