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Military executes schoolboys in their sleep

You didn't see this on any US corporate news channels.

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/world/8-weeks-on-Nato-admits.6102256.jp

8 weeks on, Nato admits 'terrorists' it killed were really innocent students

Published Date: 25 February 2010
By Jerome Starkey

IT WAS dark when Mohammed Taleb woke to the sound of dogs barking down the valley in eastern Afghanistan. Then he heard boots crunching on gravel and men's voices outside his bedroom. "Their guns," he said, "killed without a sound."
By dawn, three of his sons, two brothers, three nephews, a neighbor and a shepherd boy were dead.

Eight of the victims were enrolled in a local school. Most were shot at close range, where they slept, but one was dragged from his wife's bed and killed with his nephews in a different room, according to Mr Taleb. Relatives said all the victims were aged 11 to 17.

Originally, Nato said the eight victims were part of a terrorist cell. Yesterday, it admitted: "Ultimately, we did determine it to be a civilian casualty incident."

Speaking for the first time since the bloody night raid in December, Mr Taleb, 50, and his brother Farooq, 46, insisted their home had been raided by mistake.

"They had no idea who they had killed," Farooq said.

Mohammed recalled the moment he found the first victims. "When I entered their room, I saw four people lying in a heap," he said. "I shook them and shouted their names, but they didn't respond. Some were shot in the head. Some were shot in the chest."

The operation in the volatile Kunar province sparked protests across the country and President Hamid Karzai's security council demanded the gunmen involved be brought to justice.

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) issued a statement on 30 December, four days after the attack, claiming "a joint assault force" had been attacked from several buildings as they entered the village. Isaf said nine people had been killed when the force returned fire. "Several assault rifles, ammunition and ammonium nitrate used in bomb-making were discovered," it said.

Yesterday, an official admitted: "Knowing what we know now, it would have probably not been a justifiable attack… We don't now believe we busted a major ring."

The admission came amid mounting anger at civilian casualties. An Afghan human rights group said 63 civilians had been killed in the past fortnight.

Farooq was being held at the US military detention centre at Bagram airbase at the time of the attack. He claims he was held for 20 months in a case of mistaken identity. "He was arrested by mistake by American troops," said Kunar MP Shujawul Malik Jalalu. "As an MP, I guaranteed he wasn't with the Taleban and he won't be with Taleban."

He was released without charge after his children were killed.

Their version of events, told to The Scotsman in Kabul, is partly based on the testimony of one of Farooq's surviving sons, Sefatullah, 19, who was handcuffed, searched and marched around the mountain compound by men he believes were Americans.

"They took Sefatullah to each room and asked him who was sleeping inside," Farooq said. "But they didn't show him inside. He didn't know they were dead.

"He told them, 'My brothers, my cousins, they are students'. The Americans were writing down the names."

As soon as the troops left, Sefatullah raced back to his mother's room, and she cut the plastic cuffs which had bound his hands behind his back. "Then they went into one of the rooms, where six people had been sleeping," Farooq said. "It was dark and my wife walked on her son's dead body."

They found Mr Taleb's son, Rahimullah, 17, and a local shepherd boy called Samar Gul, 12, dead in a guest room. Mr Taleb said Samar Gul had been staying overnight because he needed wheat milled into flour, and Mr Taleb's family owns a mill.

The soldiers then burst into the room of Mr Taleb's 18-year-old half-brother Najibullah, dragged him out of bed and searched his belongings, according to his widow, Hassina. "All they found were books. Eighteen of our family were students," Mr Taleb said.

The family found Najibullah's body slumped together with Farooq's son Sebhanullah, 17, and two of Mr Taleb's sons, Matiullah, 16, and Attahullah, 15, in a room that led on to a second bedroom.

In the second room, they found Farooq and Mr Taleb's half-brother Samiullah, 12, Farooq's son Atiqullah, 15, and a nephew, Ismael, 12. All had been shot.

Investigators said the school register showed eight victims had attended classes the previous day. "If they were terrorists, how did they have time to go to school," Farooq said.

The tenth victim was a farmer, Abdul Khaliq, 18, who was shot when he ran out of a house nearby, Mr Taleb said.