U.S., Taliban trade blame over civilian casualties
As fighting intensifies in southern Afghanistan, U.S. military and purported Taliban officials are heating up their war of words over civilian casualties in the country.
On Thursday, U.S. military officials in Bagram Air Base issued a news release saying Taliban attacks had killed four more Afghan civilians in the days after a Taliban official disputed figures on civilian deaths.
“Today brings the death toll to 106 innocent civilians killed this year by extremist Taliban suicide bombers and [roadside bombs]. They say coalition forces are their enemies, yet all the suffering today was borne by Afghans,” said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-76. “It is the Taliban that is the enemy of the Afghan people.”
Two days earlier, purported Taliban spokesman Dr. Mohamed Hanif rejected the U.S. military’s assertion that Taliban attacks had killed 102 civilians so far this year. Additionally, U.S. officials said, those attacks killed 19 Afghan and other coalition soldiers in 2006.
The latest attacks included a suicide bomber jumping onto the hood of a civilian taxi, killing a teacher and an Afghan National Police officer, and wounding the driver. Taliban officials claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a different incident, a bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded at an Afghan checkpoint in Logar province, wounding two other civilians, officials said.