The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for “children with potential hostile intent”.
In October, the U.S. launched an airstrike in Afghanistan that killed three children – ages 8, 10, and 12 -while they were gathering firewood (or by some accounts, dung to burn as fuel).
In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as “deeply troubling”, army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as “military-age males”, had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
The children’s relatives and local tribal elders had confirmed at the time that they were not Taliban recruits and were not planting any roadside bombs.
This comes as The UK government has been asked to launch a probe into the death of four Afghan boys allegedly shot dead by UK soldiers. The MoD claimed the boys were ‘Taliban targets,’ while witnesses said they were shot in their home while drinking tea.
The UK Ministry of Defense confirmed it received a letter from a law firm writing on behalf of one of the victims’ brothers, which outlined the allegations and called for an investigation.
The letter alleges that a group of British soldiers entered into a village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on October 18 and shot dead Fazel Mohammed, 18, Naik Mohammed, 16, Mohammed Tayeb, 14, and Ahmed Shah, 12. Witnesses said the boys were gunned down at close range as they sat and drank tea in a family home.
Afghans have become increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of deadly assaults by US-led forces in Afghanistan over the past months and have held many protest rallies to protest against the killings.
In the latest incident at least seven civilians have been killed in an overnight attack carried out by US-led troops in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
Ahmad-Zia Abdulzai, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said on Friday that the raid had taken place in the province’s southern district of Khogyani.
Mr. Abdulzai further added the foreign troops had also arrested seven Afghans and injured one more during the attack, which was faced with Afghan resistance.
Meanwhile ISAF officials following a statement said, “An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban leader who has been involved in multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and is involved in the transport of insurgent fighters in the region.”
The source further added, “As the security force approached the leader’s suspected location, several armed insurgents attacked the combined force with small-arms fire and grenades. The security force returned fire, killing three armed insurgents.”
“No civilians were harmed in the exchange. As a result of the operation, the security force seized multiple weapons, ammunition and numerous grenades”, ISAF confirmed.