Another spate of violence in Afghanistan to report, Truthseekers. Six US troops died in a helicopter crash near Kabul. The Taliban is claiming responsibility, reporting that militant gunfire caused the crash; one survivor was rescued. The NY Times has more:
"Afghan officials said the crash happened around 4 p.m. in the Shajoe District of Zabul Province, a mountainous area roughly 50 miles from the capital.
"'The area is not fully safe -- there is enemy movement there, and it is also surrounded by mountains and covered with forest,' said Ghulam Jilani Khan, provincial security chief for Zabul, which shares a border with Pakistan. 'The information we have so far is that it crashed because of technical problems.'
"The last such major loss to coalition forces happened in June, when a truck bomb exploded near a military base in northern Helmand, claiming the lives of seven Georgian soldiers.
Throughout the war, bad weather or technical problems have been the most frequent causes of helicopter crashes, despite Taliban claims of responsibility in many of them. In March of this year, five American soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in Kandahar. A month later, another crash claimed the lives of two more American soldiers, this time in Nangarhar. Neither incident was found to have been caused by the Taliban.
But the Taliban have shot down helicopters before, causing heavy losses.
The single deadliest day of the war for American forces came in August 2011 when Taliban fighters brought down an American Chinook transport helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades, killing all 38 people aboard. Thirty of those killed in the attack were Americans, including 22 members of a Navy SEAL team; the other eight were Afghan soldiers.
And this sobering message was in my email today:
A vigil mourning 15 Yemeni wedding-goers killed on Dec. 12, 2013 by a US drone strike will be held Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 from 1 pm -- 3 pm in front of Manhattan's famous St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"St. Patrick's is chosen for the vigil," said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.org, "as a reminder one week before the birth of Jesus Christ of his witness on behalf of poor and outcast people, his message of reconciliation and peace and his challenge to the religious and political establishments of his time. In this spirit, we urge Pope Francis and other religious leaders to condemn drone warfare everywhere in the world."
The vigil will include a large-scale model of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, the workhorse of US drone killing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Mottern estimates that over 5,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since they began in 2001.
Hard to get in the spirit of the holidays, Truthseekers, when so many of our young servicemen and women are still in harm's way in a perpetual war for perpetual profit, and when our drone strikes murder countless innocents. Peace on Earth? Not a chance, with hellfire missiles and Reaper drones.