Thursday, June 18, 2009

NATO’s May 5 Massacre at Bala Baluk

NATO Kills as Many Civilians in One Day as Canadian Troops Have Been Killed in 7 Years

By Justin Panos

On May 5th, 2009, between 127 and 147 Afghan civilians were killed in one of the deadliest bombings of NATO’s war and occupation of Afghanistan. Red Cross spokesperson Jessica Barry confirms that among the dead were many women and children. The bombings took place in Bala Baluk within the Farah province of western Afghanistan. An entire family of thirteen perished, including a father and worker of the Afghan Red Crescent—a community-based arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The magnitude of death resulting from this bombing is only outdone by the horror of the first bombs dropped in October 2001, when between 3100 and 3600 civilians were immediately killed.

Most of the village elders used tractors to maneuver the dead bodies into mass graves. One elder, Hajji Issa Khan, informed the Guardian newspaper that “In this operation there were 127 people killed. I can tell you exactly because my driver was carrying those…people to the center of town and he came and told me that he carried 127 people” (quoted in the Guardian 5/6/2009). Abdul Basir Khairkhah, a member of the provincial government’s investigating team said that he collected 147 names of those who were instantly destroyed by the attack. Discrepancies in the body count have occurred because, as the elder Kahn recalls “It was difficult to count because they were in very bad shape. Some had no legs”. Reuters newswire simply accounts for “truckloads of dead bodies” (5/9/2009). Since the bombings, anti-U.S. protest has been ceaseless in the area.   

The bombings were carried out by U.S. 2nd Marines Special Operations Battalion India Company, MSOC-I. According to commanding officer Maj. Wu, “Our overall mission is to increase the credibility of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the eyes of the local nationals”. Such a mandate is blatantly contradicted by the actions of the company in their bombing of Bala Baluk.    

Following his January inauguration, President Obama diverted 17,000 US troops from the Iraq war theatre into Afghanistan. This “surge” of troops has only led to increased bloodshed and turmoil for the Afghan civilians. One researcher posits that 54 to 56 civilians die per month, in contrast to 46 to 57 per month during the first half of 2008. When the data is broken down further, the highest percentage of deaths are women and children, which lead many to conclude that “US/NATO forces are assaulting domestic or home spaces” (Herold, 2009).

The Demographics of Afghan Civilians Killed by US/NATO Actions during Obama’s Presidency (Jan. 21 – April 19, 2009)
















Source: derived from the Afghan Victim Memorial Project data base 

In further contrast to Maj. Wu’s statements, the major combat operations of the United States, Canada, and NATO has only lead to a resurgence of the Taliban, their merger with Pakistani Taliban along the puzzling borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an increase in Taliban control from 54% of Afghanistan to 72%, according to the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS, 2008).  

Canada’s participation in this occupation amounts to collusion and support for war crimes. The amount killed in the May 5th, 2009 massacre instantly outnumbers the total amount of Canadians killed in over 7 years. Hillary Clinton’s “deep, deep regrets” are simply not enough. No world will be livable until all nations are free of foreign military and economic occupation. Oppose Canada and NATO’s barbaric assault on the people of Afghanistan!