Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan Harming Innocent Civilians
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 23, 2005 Insurgents using roadside bombs and hidden mines in Afghanistan are injuring and killing innocent citizens and children, military officials said during a news briefing in the country's capital, Kabul, today.
The military said one such indiscriminate attack that occurred today injured six innocent Afghan citizens when their vehicle struck a mine near Qalat.
Four of those injured were treated at the scene. However, two individuals were medically evacuated to Kandahar Airfield for further treatment.
"This is another example of how the insurgents' operations are just as likely to injure unsuspecting citizens as they are to injure coalition forces," a spokesman said.
Hidden weapons stockpiles also pose a serious risk. "The safety of innocent children and others who can easily get to volatile weapon stockpiles is at stake," the spokesman said.
On April 20, a young Afghan near Ghazni led coalition forces to a compound where weapons, munitions and narcotics were being stored. The weapons cache consisted of rocket-propelled grenades, RPG boosters, a shotgun, a radio, a mortar round, plastic explosives, AK-47 rifle parts and various loose cans of ammunition, the spokesman said.
"Too frequently, children are brought to coalition bases for medical treatment after they have stepped on a mine, or have accidentally been shot or injured by old weapons and munitions," the official explained.
Last week, coalition forces reported recovering 27 caches across the country. Of these, 17 were turned in by either Afghan citizens or Afghan forces. The military spokesman said coalition forces are being alerted of improvised explosive devices along roadsides by Afghan citizens and Afghan forces that see them. Eight IEDs were identified before detonating this past week, and Afghans discovered four of those.
"These actions prevent not only coalition forces from becoming casualties, but they are also protecting unsuspecting Afghan citizens from becoming injured by indiscriminate roadside blasts," the military spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the spokesman said, the military is going after insurgents responsible for the attacks. "Coalition forces are committed to tracking down and capturing or killing those who seek to do harm against coalition forces or Afghan citizens," the spokesman said.
This week, at least 14 insurgents were killed when coalition forces using helicopters, aircraft and artillery responded to an attack on U.S. Forward Operating Base Salerno, in the Khowst province. The rockets caused no injuries or damage to equipment.
Military officials also reported that progress remains steady as provincial reconstruction teams spread out across the country continue their rebuilding efforts. In Khowst, the PRT completed a 6.7-kilometer road through the city's downtown a week ago.
"This road is vital so citizens can travel, shop and do business to improve their economy. The road also allows access to the city from distant outlying villages," the spokesman said.
The PRT is also building an orphanage and day care in the Matun district of the city. The building is estimated to cost $85,000. "The school will allow approximately 500 children to come in the morning and leave in the evening," the spokesman said. "They will have a school for both boys and girls, and in the winter homeless children will stay overnight."
In addition, the Khowst PRT and the U.S. Agency for International Development is spending $350,000 to build an assembly hall, where community leaders can come together and discuss community issues. Currently, the biggest meeting place seats only 75 people; the new facility will seat about 200.