Saturday, February 17, 2007

Can military involved in shoots re:Afghan

Two civilians shot as tension rises in Kandahar
GRAEME SMITH Globe and Mail Update Feb 17

Two civilians were shot dead by NATO troops Saturday during separate incidents in Kandahar, adding to rising tensions in a province that had been enjoying a winter lull in the violence.

One of the shootings proved to be somewhat bizarre. Around 3:40 p.m, a Canadian convoy was driving west along a main highway when they encountered a man walking down the centre line, about 12 kilometres outside the city.

The convoy slowed as it approached the man, a military spokesman said.

He was heard mumbling to himself and chanting, and soldiers noticed wires sticking out from his clothing.

He ignored warnings stay back from the Canadian vehicles, and wasn't scared away by warning shots. Soldiers opened fire on him.

"It's pretty safe to say the people in the convoy felt threatened," said Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips, a Canadian military spokesman.

A bomb disposal team was called to the scene, and determined that the man wasn't carrying anything explosive. But they did notice a strange contraption attached to his chest, LCdr. Phillips said, consisting of straps, multi-coloured wires, and rubbery tubing.

"The behaviour of this individual is somewhat perplexing," he said.

A second shooting earlier in the day involved NATO forces, not Canadian, whose nationality was not immediately released. A NATO statement said a man darted between the vehicles of a stopped convoy near Kandahar Airfield. Troops flashed a light at him and fired warning shots in an attempt to stop him, the statement said, but when he kept moving a gunner opened fire.

The man was not treated for his injuries until after an explosives team had searched him for bombs, and found none. He later died of his wounds in a military hospital at nearby Kandahar Air Field.

"Local nationals are encouraged to keep clear of all convoys, whether they are moving or stopped," said Lt. Col. Angela Billings, a NATO spokeswoman, in a statement.

The shooting by Canadian troops brings to seven the number of injuries or deaths of civilians by Canadian soldiers on the roads around Kandahar in the last six months.

Local residents often complain that they consider the foreign troops a menace on the roads, and senior military commanders at Kandahar Air Field have recently taken up the issue with the troops.

"I can promise you that there has been a lot of effort and energy put into trying to find alternate ways to provide warning signals to approaching persons or vehicles without having to resort to the use of deadly force, and does not expose our soldiers to any added risk," LCdr. Phillips said.


candu said...

Winning hearts and minds I presume?

audacious said...

you said it first! lol ...