Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Afghan riots sound alarm
Is anybody listening?

This past weekend, Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul erupted in violence after a U.S. military convoy caused a major traffic collision that killed at least five people. More were killed in the violence that ensued, said by some to have encompassed some 2,000 rioters. Even though the U.S. military contends that troops shot only into the air, no explanation was offered for the dozens of people in a Kabul hospital suffering from gunshot wounds. Among the dead -- reports range from between 14 to 20 killings -- was a seven-year-old boy. Carlotta Gall of The New York Times reports:

Gunfire rang out as Afghan police officers and army soldiers tried to contain rioters who rampaged through the streets for about six hours, burning and looting a dozen offices, cars and police posts. By the end of the day at least 14 people were dead and more than 90 injured, hospital officials said. It was the bloodiest day in the capital since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.
For an account from the region, your blogstress recommends The Frontier Post out of Peshawar, a center of commerce near the Khyber Pass.

Now, why, you may ask, would the Afghan people be so angry as to throw stones at armed troops while shouting "Death to America!"? Perhaps, thinks your Webwench, it could be the latest in a series of ostensibly anti-Taliban air strikes that appear to target regular townspeople in villages where the Taliban dwell. From Pam Constable and Javed Hamdard of the Washington Post:
The public mood has also been tense since a U.S. airstrike killed at least 16 civilians last week in a village in southern Afghanistan, the scene of heightened fighting this spring. Afghan and U.S. officials blamed Taliban insurgents who had taken shelter in village compounds and then fired at U.S.-led forces.
And that's just the latest, mes amis. Let us not forget the murderous interrogations by U.S. special forces of unlikely suspects (for one such example, listen to this remarkable account from "This American Life" by an Afghan-American who returned to his mother country during 2002) or that year's massacre of Afghan prisoners held in shipping containers under the aegis of the U.S. military? (Thanks to a dear one for bringing this to your cybertrix's attention.) Or could it be because the people are hungry and fed up?

A heck of a way to win hearts and minds, no?

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