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2007 Shinwar shooting

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2007 Shinwar shooting

The 2007 Shinwar shooting refers to the killing of a number of Afghan civilians by US Marines who were fleeing the scene of a bomb attack, in the Shinwar District of the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan on 4 March 2007. According to some reports, as many as 19 civilians were killed and 50 injured in the shootings.[1] The exact casualty figures have not been firmly established. [2]

Sequence of events

Haji Ihsanullah, a member of Hezb-e Islami Khalis,[3] initially drove a minivan laden with explosives into one of the five vehicles making up a US convoy, which included three,[4] or six,[5] humvees, wounding one Marine.[6] Sources differ on whether or not hidden gunmen then also opened fire on the convoy.[7] US forces then fled the scene of the ambush,[4] opening fire on some vehicles for 6–16 miles[8] while driving along the Afghan street.[9]

According to several witnesses and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, US Marines responded to the attack with excessive force, firing indiscriminately at civilians passing by on the busy highway, killing elderly men, women, and children. Akhtyar Gul, a local reporter who witnessed the shooting, claimed that the Marines sprayed civilians with machine gun fire even though the Marines were not under attack.[10]

Associated Press and Afghan journalists claimed that US soldiers confiscated photos and videos of the killings and their aftermath.[11][12]

Afghan response

BBC News has video footage of local people protesting on the streets after the incident

The killings were followed by widespread protests across Afghanistan and drew sharp criticism from President Hamid Karzai.[2] The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission contends that, "In failing to distinguish between civilians and legitimate military targets, the U.S. Marine Corps Special Forces employed indiscriminate force," the report said. "Their actions thus constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian standards."[13]

Aftermath

Major General Frank Kearney, head of the USSOCOM, ordered the entire 120-member unit out of Afghanistan pending an investigation into the incident, and announced that there was no evidence supporting the Marines' story that they had come under fire.[5]

On 3 April 2007 the unit's commander and senior officer were relieved of their duties and sent back to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.[14] Compensation payments of approximately $2000 were reportedly paid to the families of those killed or wounded.[15]

The shooting came under investigation by both Afghanistan[16] and the United States. On 12 April 2007, an initial US inquiry determined that the Marines used "excessive force when they killed civilians after a suicide bombing", and was referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for a criminal inquiry.[17] On 7 May 2007 a formal apology was issued by The Pentagon,[18] but was dismissed as premature by General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, who said, "I would just as soon that no one...apologize or talk about 'terrible, terrible mistakes'."[19]

In January 2008, a Marine Corps Court of Inquiry at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina formally investigated the incident, hearing from more than 50 witnesses, including Afghans, over 17 days. Much of the testimony was characterized as "vague and contradictory", but in the end the inquiry concluded that the convoy "acted appropriately and in accordance with the rules of engagement and tactics, techniques and procedures in place at the time in response to a complex attack."[20]

Treatment of photographers

It was also reported that photographers on the scene were ordered by US troops not to take photographs and to delete those they had already taken. A freelance photographer working for the Associated Press, claimed that two marines and a translator came up to him and asked: "Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission." Another photographer claimed that he had been told by US troops, through a translator: "Delete them [your photos], or we will delete you." All photos were deleted.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Walsh, Declan (26 July 2010). "Afghanistan war logs: How US marines sanitised record of bloodbath".  
  2. ^ a b Tyson, Ann Scott (23 March 2007). "Marine Unit Is Told To Leave Afghanistan". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Troops kill Afghan civilians after suicide attack ", WalesOnline.co.uk, 4 March 2007
  4. ^ a b Faiez, Rahim (3 May 2007). "U.S. forces flee Afghan ambush firing wildly". Current-Argus. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Iqbal, Anwar (16 April 2007) "Marines killed civilians in Afghanistan: report ", Dawn.com
  6. ^ "U.S. investigating reports of Afghan civilians killed by its military forces ", AlaskaReport, 5 March 2007
  7. ^ "US Seizes Afghan Shooting Footage ", Al Jazeera English, 6 March 2007
  8. ^ Bright, Arthur (16 April 2007) "Pentagon inquiry finds US Marine unit killed Afghan civilians. Csmonitor, 16 April 2007
  9. ^ "US Revises Downward Number of Civilians Killed in Afghan Convoy Attack". VOA News. Archived from the original on 2007-03-06. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Baxter, Sarah (15 April 2007). "US troops accused of killing civilians". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 17 April 2007. 
  11. ^ "US 'excessive' in Afghan attack". BBC News. 15 April 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  12. ^ "'"US 'erased Afghan attack footage. BBC News. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007. 
  13. ^ Gall, Carlotta (15 April 2007). "Marines Accused in Afghanistan Slayings". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2007. 
  14. ^ "Probe: Spec ops Marines used excessive force – Navy News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports – Navy Times". Navytimes.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Rights group assails U.S. marines in killings of Afghans – International Herald Tribune
  16. ^ "9 Afghan Civilians Killed In NATO Strike". CBS News. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  17. ^ "Probe: US Marines killed civilians in Afghanistan | Jerusalem Post". Fr.jpost.com. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Pentagon apologizes for deaths of Afghan civilians". CNN. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Conway Condemns Afghanistan Apology". Military.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  20. ^ David Zucchino (24 May 2008). "Marine Corps unit cleared in Afghan shootout". LA Times. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 

External links

  • Afghan Independent Human Rights commission Home Page
  • NCIS Home Page
  • article comparing Shinwar killings to theNew York Times Haditha massacre
  • Afghan shootings raise war crimes question Channel 4, 27 July 2010
  • Images and further information
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