Taliban makes bogus claims of civilian casualties

AP:

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan accused Taliban militants Monday of falsely reporting civilian casualties to discredit Afghan and international forces. Ten insurgents and two foreign soldiers, meanwhile, were killed in fresh fighting.

The U.S.-led coalition made the claim Monday after Afghan elders alleged that up to 18 civilians were killed late Sunday by coalition troops in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold.

Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman, said credible intelligence suggested the claims were fabricated as part of a propaganda war. "The insurgents continue to follow their pattern of falsely reporting civilian casualties," she said.

NATO-led forces, whose operations in Helmand are being supported by U.S.-led coalition troops and aircraft, insist that no noncombatants were killed in the fighting. The claims could not be independently verified due to the remoteness of the area where the clash took place.

Reports of civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly deplored such deaths, saying they undermine efforts to win the trust of the people.

Insurgent attacks on Afghan and Western troops are running at their highest level since U.S. forces invaded the country in 2001 to oust the hard-line Islamic Taliban rulers, who had harbored Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders following the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.

Late Sunday, Afghan police killed six suspected militants during a one-hour gunbattle in Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, said Ghamia Khan, a spokesman for the governor. He gave no more details.

...


At least the AP is willing to print the charges against the Taliban. For too long our side has acted as if the Taliban charges of civilian casualties was something to be looked into rather than challenging the obvious propaganda. It is apparently too much for the AP to think about how bogus the Taliban charges are and how their source for such information at best is clueless as to whether the deaths are those of civilians or Taliban. I repeat myself, but the Taliban do not wear uniforms are wear dog tags for identification. They camouflage themselves as civilians so that a dead Taliban would look like a civilian. By doing this they endanger civilians. They also take civilian human shields. For all of these reasons the AP should never assume the veracity of any Taliban claims regarding civilian casualties and they should consider any source claiming civilian casualties as likely a Taliban front.

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