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Afghanistan | International

US seizes Afghan shooting footage
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Monday Mar 5th, 2007 6:55 PM
US forces in Afghanistan tried to confiscate video and destroy photographic evidence taken after a shooting incident that left at least 10 civilians dead, witnesses have told Al Jazeera.
Footage obtained by Al Jazeera shows the scene in Nangarhar province immediately after US forces opened fire following a car bomb attack on their convoy.

The footage included a scenes of local people in shock, treating the wounded and pulling bodies from the debris left by the shooting.

After the Nargarhar incident, a separate Nato air raid in northern Afghanistan left nine civilians dead, according to a local official.

Response

Responding to Al Jazeera's discovery of the footage, a spokesman for the US contingent within the international force insisted US troops acted in self-defence.

"We regret the loss of life of the Afghan civilians, but coalition forces were attacked by both a suicide bomb vehicle and small arms fire.

"Our forces returned fire in self-defence against numerous enemy positions," said Lieutenant Colonel David Accetta, coalition forces spokesman.

"We don't train or order our troops to fire on unarmed civilians, and it's uncertain at this time what caused the casualties.

"But it's important to note that the extremists conducted this attack in an area that they knew would cause civilian casualties," he said.

'Complete lie'

Witnesses say the suicide bomber had acted alone, that there were no accomplices and that US troops had panicked, firing at anything that moved immediately after the attack.

One told Al Jazeera: "There were no gunmen, this is a complete lie. This is a peaceful area, we don't have guns."

The dead included an 80-year-old man, whose grand-son said: "A bomb exploded, my grandfather sat in a car and at that time American soldiers were shooting into my grandfather's car."

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, condemned the killings earlier on Monday and ordered an investigation into Sunday's attack.

His office and the Afghan interior ministry on Monday put the death toll at 10 civilians while the coalition late on Sunday said eight Afghans were killed and 35 wounded.

Civilian deaths
In a separate incident, nine civilians, including two children, were killed after a Nato air attack hit a house in northern Afghanistan, according to a local official.

Sayed Daud Hashimi, a deputy provincial governor in the Kapisa province, said five women were among the dead overnight on Monday after artillery fire hit their home in the area north of Kabul.

Hashimi said a Nato reconstruction base in the province was attacked and that they "responded with artillery and an air strike, killing nine Afghan civilians".

The interior ministry confirmed an incident in the Nijrab district involved "some casualties" but said it was searching for more details.

The Nato base in Kapisa is staffed by US forces. William Mitchell, a spokesman for the US military, said officials were looking into the incident.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FBF1B06D-723D-4A91-BF4D-5B65984D9AB4.htm
by reposted
Monday Mar 5th, 2007 7:01 PM
Washington, D.C. - The Associated Press is to complain to the US military after journalists said US soldiers deleted footage of the aftermath of an attack in Afghanistan.
The Associated Press is to complain to the US military after journalists said US soldiers deleted footage of the aftermath of an attack in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai said 10 people died when coalition forces opened fire on civilians after a suicide attack in eastern Nangarhar province on Sunday.

Journalists working for AP said US troops erased images of a vehicle in which three people had been shot dead.

The US military said it could not confirm its troops had seized any film.

'Co-ordinated attack'

The Americans say the fighting started when a convoy of marines was attacked by a suicide bomber and came under co-ordinated small-arms fire.

They say their soldiers returned fire, and acknowledge that at least eight Afghan civilians were killed, with a further 35 injured.

Thousands of local people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against what happened. The Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of the militant attack.

'You will face problems'

In a report from Kabul, the Associated Press (AP) said it "plans to lodge a protest with the American military".

A freelance photographer working for AP and a cameraman working for AP Television News say they arrived at the site about half an hour after the suicide bombing.

Witnesses at the scene said three civilians in the four-wheel drive vehicle had been killed by US forces fleeing the attack, the journalists said.

"When I went near the four-wheel drive, I saw the Americans taking pictures of the same car, so I started taking pictures," photographer Rahmat Gul said.

"Two soldiers with a translator came and said, 'Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission.'"

Mr Gul said troops took his camera, deleted his photos and returned it to him.

His APTN colleague, who did not want to be named, said he was told he could film the scene - but when he did so a US soldier got very angry and deleted any footage that included the Americans.

Khanwali Kamran, a reporter for the Afghan channel Ariana Television, said the American soldiers also deleted his footage, AP reported.

"They warned me that if it is aired ... then, 'You will face problems,'" Mr Kamran was quoted by the news agency as saying.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the alleged actions of the US forces, saying they dealt with the media poorly.

"Why did the soldiers do it if they don't have anything to hide?" said Jean-Francois Julliard, a spokesman for the Paris-based group.

US military spokesman Lt Col David Accetta said he did not have any confirmed reports that coalition forces "have been involved in confiscating cameras or deleting images".

http://www.alaskareport.com/z45383.htm
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan journalists covering the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack and shooting in eastern Afghanistan yesterday said U.S. troops deleted their photos and video and warned them not to publish or air any images of U.S. troops or a car where three Afghans were shot to death.

Afghan witnesses and gunshot victims said U.S. forces fired on civilians in cars and on foot along at least a six-mile stretch of road in Nangarhar province following a suicide attack against the Marine convoy. The U.S. military said militants also fired on American forces during the attack.

A freelance photographer working for The Associated Press and a cameraman working for AP Television News said a U.S. soldier deleted their photos and video showing a four-wheel drive vehicle in which three people were shot to death about 100 yards from the suicide bombing. The AP plans to lodge a protest with the American military.

The photographer, Rahmat Gul, said witnesses at the scene told him the three had been shot to death by U.S. forces fleeing the attack. The two AP freelancers arrived at the site about a half-hour after the suicide bombing, Gul said.

"When I went near the four-wheel drive, I saw the Americans taking pictures of the same car, so I started taking pictures," Gul said. "Two soldiers with a translator came and said, 'Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission."'

It wasn't clear why the accredited journalists would need permission to take photos of a civilian car on a public highway.

Gul said the U.S. troops took his camera, deleted his photos and returned it to him. The journalists came across another American, showed their identification cards, and he agreed they could take pictures.

A Western military official who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to release the information said the troops were Marine Special Operations Forces, the Marine Corps component created in February 2006 of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

"The same soldier who took my camera came again and deleted my photos," Gul said. "The soldier was very angry. ... I told him, 'They gave us permission,' but he didn't listen."

Gul's new photos also were deleted, and the American, speaking through a translator, warned him that he did not want to see any AP photos published anywhere. The American also raised his fist in anger as if he were going to hit him, but he did not strike, Gul said.

Lt. Col. David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman, said he did not have any confirmed reports that coalition forces "have been involved in confiscating cameras or deleting images."

Khanwali Kamran, a reporter for the Afghan channel Ariana Television, was in a small group of journalists working alongside Gul. Kamran said the American soldiers also deleted his footage.

"They warned me that if it is aired ... then, 'You will face problems,"' Kamran said.

Taqiullah Taqi, a reporter for Afghanistan's largest television station, Tolo TV, said Americans were using abusive language.

"According to the translator, they said, 'Delete them, or we will delete you,"' Taqi said.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the actions of the U.S. forces, saying they dealt with the press poorly.

"Why did the soldiers do it if they don't have anything to hide? The situation is very tense in Afghanistan, and the media should be able to report about it freely and safely," said Jean-Francois Julliard, a spokesman for the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/world/16835583.htm