Deadly Incidents Take A Toll In Afghanistan
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:52 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Events in Afghanistan these past couple of days are reflecting the various ways in which things are going wrong there. In Kabul today there are violent protests against the now infamous film that insults the Prophet Muhammad. This comes a day after four U.S. soldiers were killed in another insider attack. And also yesterday, a NATO airstrike killed several women and girls in the eastern part of the country. For the latest, we go to NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. She's in Kabul.
And Soraya, tell us what's going on there, really right now, with those protests.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Well, it started early this morning near Camp Phoenix, which is a U.S.-run base on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. And it quickly swelled to more than a thousand people who were setting cars and tires on fire, including two police vehicles. The police responded quickly. They shot in the air. And protestors started throwing rocks in response. About 20 police officers were injured. But the crowd appears to have been dispersed by the police successfully.
MONTAGNE: Well, let's talk a bit(ph) about those four American soldiers who were killed. Now, this was another insider shooting, as we've just said. That brings it to at least 51, the number of Western troops killed by Afghans in uniform this year. What do you know about this latest attack?
NELSON: What we've been able to piece together so far is that the Americans were on a patrol that was responding to help some Afghan police officers at a checkpoint. At least one of those police officers, if not more, opened fire. There are conflicting accounts. And a firefight ensued. Four Americans were killed, several more were wounded. And at this point one shooter was killed and five policemen are said to be missing. But again, it's unclear whether they were part of an attack or they had planned this.
MONTAGNE: And in a sense, while that was going on, a NATO airstrike left Afghan civilians, women and girls, outside Kabul dead. What happened in that airstrike?
NELSON: Well, NATO says they had gone after insurgents in that area, that this is what the airstrike was targeting. These women and girls had gone out early in the morning to collect firewood. And so then the survivors ended up carrying the dead and also some wounded down to the government officials there to protest what was going on. They were shouting anti-American slogans, very upset, obviously. And at this stage it's still being investigated.
MONTAGNE: So what has been the reaction from the NATO-led coalition and the Afghan government to these events, and especially these last two attacks that we've been talking about?
NELSON: The civilian airstrike drew a quick condemnation from President Karzai, who also sent his own investigators up to see what was going on. NATO said they were very sorry if something happened. They've sort of pulled back from saying how many might've been killed and they - all they say is that they're still investigating.
And at the same time, the attack on the four Americans, there was no response from the Afghan government. But there was a pretty strong statement from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who on Sunday said that this sort of thing can't be whitewashed and that something has to change. This is not just something that is going to go away by working harder.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking to us from Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.