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Editorial: Airstrike investigation

Wars are ugly business. Bullets and rockets do not differentiate between civilians and armed people. Targets are chosen by people. Therefore, those should be held responsible for killing civilians who target them. The culture of denial and impunity has taken roots so deeply that killing of common people is not considered a crime. Even in many cases they are not considered as collateral damage but a target or party to the war. That’s why civilian casualties have increased manifold in the recent years. It seems that civilians have become a sandwich between the warring parties. Human rights are not respected. Afghan people are feeling unsafe, no matter where they live. Neither urban nor rural areas are free from violence. Given the fragile security situation and daily armed fighting, how can a civilian feel safe.

Killing over 30 civilians in Kunduz province is a good epitome to gauge the scale of growing violence and disrespect for human rights. The government officials blamed the Taliban for the civilian casualties that have raised many questions. Locals were killed on Wednesday night but the incident was unreported till Thursday afternoon. The news was reported when neighbors and the family members of victims protested, carrying the dead bodies, in Kunduz City. Trying to blanket such news is injustice. The government did injustice by not responding to the incident on time. The second injustice was justification of civilian killings by certain officials. Instead of condemning the incident and promising to launch a comprehensive investigation, a few security officials told media that the civilians, mostly women and children, were family members of the insurgent leaders.

These officials are ignoring the facts that such news do not heal wounds of the victims’ families but it sparks hatred against the government. To kill seven civilians with a militant leader could not be justified. Therefore, the officials should be meticulous when giving statements or clarification regarding civilians killed in ground offensive or airstrikes. Provincial and central governments’ officials should know about sentiments of those who lost loved ones in Kunduz on Wednesday night. They need more than statements. The relevant authorities shall visit their houses to assure them of transparent probe and quick justice. Unfortunately, the state machinery is too slow when it comes to probe in civilian casualties.

Therefore, Afghans have appreciated the United Nations’ decision to launch investigation into killing of 32 civilians. The UN would probe the claims that whether the civilians were killed in a US airstrike. The UN has also won hearts by saying that loss of civilian life was unacceptable, irrespective of the circumstances. Since the UN has decided to investigate the claims, it should not come under pressure during course of the investigation because families of the victims are desperately waiting for justice.

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