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​Afghan toddler killed by US troops amid heightened tension over security pact

Published time: January 10, 2014 13:50
Edited time: January 11, 2014 09:17
AFP Photo / Patrick Baz

AFP Photo / Patrick Baz

US forces stationed in Afghanistan accidentally gunned down a four-year-old boy, say local officials. The incident prompted a rebuke from President Karzai who is refusing to sign a security pact with the US unless it gives assurances of civilian safety.

Marines based in the violence-plagued province of Helmand mistakenly opened fire on the boy because of poor visibility, said local government authorities.

“As the weather was dusty, the marine forces based there thought he was enemy and opened fire. As a result of mistaken fire, he was killed,” the spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province, Omar Zwak, told Reuters.

In response to the incident, NATO said an investigation into the matter would be launched immediately and that all possible measures were taken to avoid civilian casualties.

The four-year-old’s death at the hands of American troops sparked a furious reaction from the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded an immediate end to all military operations on civilian homes and show a clear dedication to the peace process before a security pact is signed.

"We have called … for an absolute end to ISAF/NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings where innocent children or civilians are the victims," the president's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said when commenting on the death of the boy.

Washington and Kabul are currently at loggerheads over a security pact that would see an American troop presence stay behind after the US’s scheduled withdrawal in December. The Obama Administration has been ratcheting up the pressure for Karzai to sign the agreement after the December 31st deadline.

It argues that if the US does not leave behind at least 8,000 troops it could allow the Taliban to regain a foothold and plunge the country into “chaos”.

The Afghan government has rejected these claims as “baseless” and intimated that there is an ulterior motive behind the security pact.

"We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters.

‘No respect for Afghan life’

The issue of civilian causalities has been a bone of contention between the US and Afghanistan recently.

President Karzai decried US forces following an airstrike back in November that killed a small child and injured two women. In a furious rebuke he declared the strike that happened in Helmand province "reveals that American forces have no respect for Afghan lives."

He said that if such “cruelty” goes on, “the security pact will not be signed with America.”

Washington took issue with Afghan leadership after Kabul announced the release of 72 prisoners the US deems “dangerous criminals” who are suspected of “terror-related crimes”. The Afghan government said there was too little evidence to warrant a trial for the detainees and it could not allow “innocent Afghan citizens to be kept in detention for months and years without a trial for no reason at all.”

Comments (52)


Juan Palotes 23.01.2014 22:52

Marcia Monroe 18.01.2014 13:40 "Casualties are never acceptable but that is the price you pay when your dusty little country is full of maniacal terrorists who wish harm upon Americans.

" I can see where you came from. But tell me .. When Afghanistan invaded, bomb and kill Americans? What they want from us? Oh yes training for soldiers that have not work at home. Wake Up that you are not in the 1%!


Marcia Monroe 18.01.2014 13:40

Americans are largely supportive of bringing our boys home and letting Afghanistan implode like it naturally will on its own. WAR IS UGLY. Casualties are never acceptable but that is the price you pay when your dusty little country is full of maniacal terrorists who wish harm upon Americans. Where's the anger from any of you people about your own citizens; men, women and even children blowing themselves up killing innocent men, women and children along with them? All of those poor people were Truly murdered by their own people and yet Americans are barbaric? Pure hypocrisy.


Douglas Dewar 11.01.2014 16:01

Would this 4 year old innocent be so likely to be murdered if the killer knew in advance that he { the killer } would be subject to Afghan criminal justice prosecution ? The fact that the yanks demand legal immunity to the law in countries they invade gives their warriors carte blanche to kill with impunity. This impunity creates a mindset in the yank which makes murdering 4 year olds acceptable behavior. Has anyone heard the yank military chain of command state that the murderer in this tragic case has been arrested ? will be prosecuted ? committed a crime ? I too have not so.

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