Reported Killing of Children Haunts Foreign Forces as Protests Erupt Across Afghanistan

Posted: January 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
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The Associated Press reports that roughly 5,000 Afghans today protested foreign forces on a road between Kabul and Jalalabad, shouting “Death to America!” and “Death to Obama!” after another group of children died in an explosion on Wednesday.

KABUL (AP) — Thousands of Afghans shouting ”Death to America!” protested the killings of children Thursday, the latest in a string of controversial cases in which international forces have been blamed for civilian deaths.

NATO troops were among those killed in Wednesday’s blast, which the Afghan Interior Ministry attributed to a detonated roadside mine. However, Afghans were already enraged by accusations of execution-style killing of children by foreign forces in late December, and the taint of that incident made the protesters more than willing to attribute blame to coalition forces:

On Wednesday, an explosion tore through a group of children gathered around foreign soldiers visiting a U.S.-funded road project in Nangarhar province, east of the capital of Kabul. Afghan officials said four children were killed. NATO said two died.

Minutes after the blast, local residents were accusing American forces of throwing a grenade into the crowd — even though several international troops were among the wounded. The Afghan Interior Ministry later released a statement saying the explosion occurred when a passing police vehicle hit a mine.

Still, an estimated 5,000 protesters demonstrated the deaths Thursday along a road between Kabul and Jalalabad in Nangarhar. They waved a banner condemning the attack, set fire to an effigy of President Barack Obama and chanted ”Long live Islam!” and ”Death to Obama!”

This is the latest in a series of protests against foreign troops that erupted across Afghanistan over the past several weeks. Protests erupted in late December in Kabul and Jalalabad over the killing of children by foreign forces in Ghazi Khan in late December. In early December, hundreds of Afghans protested in Mehtar Lam after an airstrike reportedly killed 12 civilians (NATO initially denied the deaths and then had to walk it back pending investigations, as usual).

According to a recent report by the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, an average of three children are killed per day by the Afghanistan war.

Cross-posted at Rethink Afghanistan.

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