Saturday, February 17, 2007

another civilian shoot by Nato / Afghanistan

NATO soldiers fearing suicide attack shoot and kill Afghan civilian
02-17-2007 KABUL (AFP)

NATO soldiers fearing a suicide attack has shot and killed an Afghan civilian when he ran between vehicles in a convoy in southern Afghanistan.

The man had run into a convoy that had stopped near the Kandahar Airfield, the biggest International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan.

A soldier tried to make the man halt by flashing a light and then firing warning shots. When he did not stop, soldiers fired at and wounded him, ISAF said in a statement Saturday.

ISAF explosives experts were called to the scene to see if the wounded man was carrying bombs. Once it was established he was not, he was evacuated to an ISAF hospital where he died.
There have been a string of such killings, most of them at security checkpoints in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is fiercest and has included scores of suicide attacks against security forces.

The statement did not say which of the 37 nations in ISAF the troops involved in the incident came from. Most soldiers in Kandahar are Canadians.

An ISAF spokeswoman said separately that two soldiers were wounded in a gunfight Saturday with suspected Taliban militants in the southern province of Helmand, where rebels have been holding a town for more than two weeks.

Lieutenant Colonel Angela Billings did not give the nationalities of the soldiers, in keeping with ISAF practice. Most of Britain's deployment of more than 5,200 soldiers to Afghanistan is in Helmand.

Billings did not say if the rebels suffered any casualties in the fight, which was in the volatile Garmser district. She would not provide further details, saying an investigation was under way.

ISAF planes attacked rebel targets in Sangin district of Helmand on Friday, Billings also said. She was not able to say if there were any casualties to Taliban fighters.

Helmand is Afghanistan's premier opium-producing and drug-trafficking area which has seen a wave of violence this year.

Military commanders expect the insurgency-linked violence to intensify in Afghanistan as the weather warms.

But the ISAF commander for the south rejected Saturday talk of a "spring offensive" by Taliban militants, telling reporters "we are going to take the initiative."

Dutch Major General Ton van Loon also said he did not believe militants were capable of the same level of conventional battles they fought last year.

"The spring offensive will not happen because we are going to take the initiative," Van Loon said during a visit to an Australian and Dutch base in Uruzgan province.