The relatives of an Afghan father and two of his sons, who they say were killed and disfigured by heavy US fire in the country’s Nangarhar province, told RT they demand the American troops be punished. The US military says it’s unaware of civilian casualties.
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The incident took place in the Ghani Khel district, in the southern Nangarhar province on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, early Monday.
The US military command in Kabul said that a convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, which was followed with an attack by armed militants, Reuters reported.
“The convoy returned fire in self-defense and there were no US casualties,” the command said in a statement, adding that no civilian casualties were reported.
However, the accounts on the ground in Ghani Khel are different, with local police saying that three civilians – an owner of a small brick factory and two of his sons – were killed by the indiscriminate firing of the US troops.
Forty-five-year-old Zir Gul Khan and his sons were guarding the factory during the night when the US convoy was hit with an explosion.
“He woke up to see what happened. The US troops [who were on a tank] thought that Zir Gul Khan was a terrorist and opened fire, killing Zir Gul Khan and his two sons,” the police said in a statement.
The man’s nephew, Ziya Rahman, who was lucky to survive the attack, told RT, “When the explosion happened, I was near with my uncle and cousins. American soldiers opened fire, and a bullet flew by my face. I ran and hid, and came out only a few hours later. My uncle and cousins were dead, so I went to the village to tell everyone.”
Zir Gul and his sons were basically torn apart by the US gunfire, with his uncle Ghulam Ahmad saying: “It was horrible what the Americans did to them. Even I couldn’t recognize their bodies.”
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The tragedy left 12 of Zir Gul’s children, six sons and as many daughters, without their provider.
The kids who are now facing a struggle for survival, are both shocked by their father’s death and full of anger.
“We want the government to kill those, who murdered my father,” Zir Gul’s son, Zahid, told RT.
The boy does not seem to care that the apparent perpetrators are American soldiers, reiterating: “I want the government to avenge my father and kill his killers.”
The elder relatives and friends also demanded the responsible US troops to be punished, but insisted that it should be done in accordance with law.
“We want to bring them to court. Why can American troops kill our people, and so cruelly? They’re only interested in themselves – and don’t care about the Afghan people. I want them to be in court and to be convicted,” Ghulam Ahmad said.
“We don’t need compensation. We just want them to be punished. We want the government to punish the US soldiers, who killed my relatives and the government should promise this to us,” said the shopkeeper, who identified himself as Kheyaluddin.
The US, which says that it takes every civilian life seriously, promised to investigate civilian deaths in Ghani Khel, just like it did on many other occasions.
However, most similar inquiries during the 16-year-long Afghan war have ended with nothing but apologies.
But it is not enough for Zir Gul’s family and many other Afghanis, who want the Americans finally out of their country.
The incidents, involving civilians being killed by American troops, “happen all the time,” Ghulam Ahmad said.
The Americans “are not helping us – they are killing us. We don’t need Americans in Afghanistan… We want the government to kick them out,” Ahmad added.
Shopkeeper Kheyaluddin added: “First, we don’t want anything from US troops. Second, we don’t need them here. This has happened so many times. Zir Gul was just a poor guy working to feed his kids and his family.”
“I don’t want them here because they kill civilians. We are tired of American soldiers, their explosions and their killing,” nephew Ziya Rahman added.
RT has sent a request to the Pentagon for comment on the incident and is following the status of the investigation.