[DEBATE] : Occupied Afghanistan - NATO considers more humane smaller bombs
Riaz K. Tayob
riazt at iafrica.com
Mon Jul 30 09:20:26 BST 2007
Nato mulls 'smaller Afghan bombs'
Nato is considering the use of smaller bombs in Afghanistan to try to
curb the rising number of civilians killed during operations against the
Commanders have also ordered troops to hold off attacking militants in
some situations where civilians are at risk.
Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer acknowledged civilian casualties
had hurt the alliance politically, in an interview with the Financial Times.
Aid agencies say western forces have killed 230 civilians so far this year.
Between 700 and 1,000 civilians were killed by both sides during 2006,
according to the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR).
Mr de Hoop Scheffer said Nato commanders were "working with weapon loads
on aircraft to reduce collateral damage".
However, he insisted it was impossible to eliminate non-combatant deaths
If we cannot neutralise our enemy today without harming civilians,
our enemy will give us the opportunity tomorrow
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Mr de Hoop Scheffer said Gen Dan McNeill, the commander of the Nato
force in Afghanistan, Isaf, had also instructed troops to delay attacks
on Taleban fighters if civilians are at risk.
"We realise that, if we cannot neutralise our enemy today without
harming civilians, our enemy will give us the opportunity tomorrow," he
"If that means going after a Taliban not on Wednesday but on Thursday,
we will get him then."
A spokesman for Isaf (the International Security Assistance Force) told
the BBC's correspondent in Kabul, Alastair Leithead, that the
secretary-general's comments were part of a move to revise procedures to
take Afghan sensitivities into account.
Mr de Hoop Scheffer's comments come a week after Italian Foreign
Minister Massimo D'Alema said civilian casualties were "not acceptable
on a moral level" and "disastrous on a political level".
Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, also recently warned western
troops against treating Afghan lives cheaply.
He is scheduled to visit the US at the weekend for talks with top US
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/07/30 07:24:44 GMT
© BBC MMVII
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