Governor, Coalition Forces Present Attack Evidence to Afghan Elders
By Navy Lt. j.g. James Dietle
Special to American Forces Press Service
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, June 11, 2009 Coalition forces met with Afghan provincial leaders here yesterday to discuss an explosion that occurred in Asadabad, Afghanistan, June 9.
Navy Cmdr. Murray Tynch meets with local elders in Asadabad, Afghanistan, June 10, 2009, at the Kunar province governor’s compound to show them evidence collected with Afghan forces from a grenade attack on Asadabad the previous day. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. James Dietle
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The provincial reconstruction team and the Kunar governor reviewed the coalition’s most recent findings, which included grenade fragments and a video of the attack from an unmanned aerial vehicle.
This evidence, which has been publically released by coalition forces, demonstrated to both Gov. Sayed Wahidi and Gen. Jalal, Kunar’s head of police, that coalition forces were not responsible for the explosion.
“We have conducted this investigation after the attack very quickly and carefully,” said Navy Cmdr. Murray Tynch, commander of the provincial reconstruction team in Kunar. “I have checked, and all the grenades held by coalition members are accounted for. We know that none of them fired their weapons during the attack. I have shown you video of the event verifying that I am telling the truth of both accounts.”
Afghan and coalition officials jointly presented their findings to the village elders of the Asadabad area.
“These are your people; these are my people,” Wahidi said after giving the elders copies of the reports and findings. “Show them the truth, and they will listen and believe you. It is your responsibility.”
The final event was a news conference with local and international media to show them the video and the Russian grenade fragments discovered at the scene. Tynch narrated the video footage for the local leaders through a Pashto interpreter and explained what was happening in the video.
“Based on the evidence I have seen, the grenade that was used in the attack is definitely of Russian design and not U.S.,” Wahidi said. “All documents show only the facts about the explosion, and no eyewitness saw a coalition member throw a grenade.”
In media interviews, Tynch spoke on the current situation in Asadabad.
“This indiscriminate attack on the citizens of Asadabad is the second in two weeks,” he said. “Asadabad was recently targeted by mortars that killed two and wounded 13. These attacks are not being conducted against coalition forces, but against innocent Afghans. We need your help to stop them from happening.”
Wahidi said some of the early reporting on the incident seems to be wrong. “Here is what we know now,” he said. “We know there was a blast. We know from evidence that I have seen that it was a Russian F1 grenade. There was no small-arms fire. We have seen footage that shows coalition forces did not attack or provoke our citizens.
“As we continue to investigate to find the perpetrators of this attack we will keep everyone informed on the event,” he said.
(Navy Lt. j.g. James Dietle serves in the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)