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6 Apr, 2010 14:11

NATO admits guilt in Afghan slayings

NATO spokesmen have admitted culpability in the Feb. 12 deaths of five members of a family, including two pregnant women and a respected law enforcement official.

 NATO officials have admitted that there was a cover-up in the death of three women and two Afghan law-enforcement personnel in Khataba, Afghanistan on Feb. 12. Troops initially claimed that the victims died before the raid. A spokesman from Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s headquarters said that the women were found tied up, gagged and already dead. However, on April 5, NATO Spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale said that the women died as a result of troops firing at the men.

The investigation into the incident shows that in addition to killing the women, soldiers attempted to cover up the deaths by digging bullets out of the bodies and washing them with alcohol.

“The original story that these women died in honor killings was shown to be a lie,” said journalist David Lindorff, who reported on the story. “I think what we’re seeing is them running death squads, going into these villages looking for Taliban. We never would have heard about it if they had found Taliban.”

Lindorff says that the implications for US operations in the country are serious.

“Every time you do an attack and kill innocent people, you’re going to have relatives who are really angry, and the Afghan culture is a culture of revenge so this is going to be a bad thing for the US military,” said Lindorff.

"US forces are definitely under more pressure to limit civilian casualties – trying to limit night raids, trying to limit airstrikes. There is an effort to try and behave in a way that makes international forces more appealing to regular Afghan people,” said Jerome Snarkey, a correspondent for the Times of London based in Kabul. “But there is still a sharp edge to the US forces here. Night raids are still taking place every week and the inevitable result of these operations is civilian casualties.” Read also - Scandal: Helicopters of the USA Shooting Photographer of Reuters in Iraq