The alleged deaths of five Afghan civilians by a NATO airstrike must be transparently investigated and any confirmed civilian losses recognized, said Center for Civilians in Conflict. Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces have dramatically decreased public support for the presence of international forces. CIVIC noted today—a day after the anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001—that NATO must not forget the strategic and ethical implications of not properly responding to allegations of civilian harm.
“International forces must heed the lessons they’ve learned over twelve long years,” said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of Center for Civilians in Conflict. “Don’t deny civilian harm until you have facts to back it up, and if civilians were killed, explain why to the families, make amends, and commit to improving operations for the next time.”
On Friday, 4 October, a mortar attack on a joint NATO-Afghan base near Jalalabad City prompted a NATO airstrike in response. In a public statement following the airstrike, President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the action for killing five civilians, including three brothers aged 10, 14 and 16. NATO forces initially denied civilians had been involved in the attack, but later launched an investigation after images of dead civilians were presented to them. A NATO spokesman said on Saturday that it takes “all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and is working with our Afghan partners to confirm the details.”