"An Afghan elder who lives in Zangawat, a village near the base, said U.S. soldiers threatened residents with retaliation after an American vehicle hit a buried bomb three days before the shootings. " (LA Times)
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (right)
The massacre of 17 civilians in Panjwai, Kandahar is in high cover-up mode here in the United States. Even the roadside bombing which cost the leg of an as-yet unidentified US service member cannot be "confirmed" by the US military:
"A spokesman for the U.S. military declined to give any information on the bombing or even confirm that it occurred, citing the investigation of the shootings. He also declined to comment on the allegation that U.S. troops threatened retaliation." (AP)
According to the massacre suspect, Sgt. Robert Bale's lawyer, a fellow US service member lost a leg in that attack. What happened next was predictable, and it foreshadowed the massacre that would follow:
U.S. soldiers "took people out of their houses and threatened them," Sayed Mohammad Azim Agha, the tribal elder, said in an interview. "They said, 'If there are IEDs, you will bear the consequences'..." (LA Times)
If so, then this is a premeditated act of terrorism as well as mass-murder.
US media have finally looked into the situation in Panjwai, and seem to have started asking the right questions. Unfortunately, the Associated Press seems to have updated its own story over at the San Francisco Gate and subsequently omitted a number of troubling sentences from its report. San Franciscans may now learn that:
"Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on U.S. forces in the same area a few days earlier." (SF Gate/AP)
Notice, it's now a matter of opinion, and that they are "convinced." This leaves wiggle room and turns it into a he-said/she-said story. However, the original AP story (Deb Riechmann) actually begins as follows:
"KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Several Afghans near the villages where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians say U.S. troops lined them up against a wall after a roadside bombing and told them that they, and even their children, would pay a price for the attack."
Further quotes substantiate these US/NATO threats against women and children just days before the killing spree, all of which are now deleted from the current SF Gate "Associated Press" version of this article. In Winston Smith 1984 fashion, all of this evidence is now tossed down the memory hole:
One Mokhoyan resident, Ahmad Shah Khan, told The Associated Press that after the bombing, U.S. soldiers and their Afghan army counterparts arrived in his village and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall.The Afghan Parliament has determined that "15 to 20" Americans committed the murders, after a two day investigation in the villages. Afghan news reported:
"It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid," Khan said. "Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge."
Neighbors of Khan gave similar accounts to the AP, and several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.
...Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where the shootings occurred, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai.
"After the incident, [the Americans] took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area," Rasool said. "After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site.
"The soldiers called all the people to come out of their houses and from the mosque," he said.
"The Americans told the villagers, 'A bomb exploded on our vehicle. ... We will get revenge for this incident by killing at least 20 of your people,'" Rasool said. "These are the reasons why we say they took their revenge by killing women and children in the villages." (AP, Riechmann)
"Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of US soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar's Panjwayi district at around 2am, enter homes and open fire."
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