American military in Afghanistan provided the Associated Press with an unfortunate, yet easy-to-cover subplot in the aftermath of a battle that led to the death of 16 Afghan civilians.
Amir Shah writes from Kabul:
A freelance photographer working for The Associated Press and a cameraman working for AP Television News said a U.S. soldier deleted their photos and video showing a four-wheel drive vehicle in which three people were shot to death about 100 yards from the suicide bombing. The AP plans to lodge a protest with the American military.
The U.S. military blamed its troops’ unfortunate reaction, in which Afghan civilians were killed, on a “complex ambush” by Taliban militants. The deaths of the 16 civilians will undoubtedly hamper the U.S.’s efforts to redouble their forces while making nice and contributing positively to the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
Carlotta Gall has been delivering the straight gravy from Afghanistan for years for the New York Times:
The shooting sparked demonstrations, with local people blocking the highway, the main road east from the town of Jalalabad to the border with Pakistan. And there were differences in some of the accounts of the incident, with the Americans saying that the civilians were caught in cross-fire between the troops and militants, and Afghan witnesses and some authorities blaming the Americans for indiscriminately shooting at civilian vehicles in anger after the explosion.
No matter whose account you believe, the Taliban’s expected “spring offensive” is on. Two British troops were reported killed in southern Afghanistan yesterday.
Graphic of active multinational military force in Afghanistan, 7 feb, 2007, via NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.