Film backs Afghan villagers' claim of carnage by US troops

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Kabul, Sept.8 : The grainy video eight-minute footage, seen exclusively by The Times, has emerged as the most compelling evidence of a carnage perpetrated by American troops in Nawabad, Afghanistan, on August 21 this year.

The video has now prompted the Pentagon to reopen the investigation into the attack. An officer is being sent to Nawabad to review its previous inquiry.

Villagers and the UN insist that 92 were killed, including as many as 60 children. Locals say that the US and Afghan troops who came into the village looking for a Taleban commander, with US air support, used excessive force.

In the video, scores of bodies are seen laid out in a building that villagers say is used as a mosque; the people were killed apparently during a combined operation by US special forces and Afghan army commandos in western Afghanistan.

An Afghan doctor who arrived the next morning shot the film on a mobile phone.

Local people say that US forces bombed preparations for a memorial ceremony for a tribal leader. Residential compounds were levelled by US attack helicopters, armed drones and a cannon-armed C-130 Spectre gunship. However, US commanders and Pentagon officials have said repeatedly that seven civilians died alongside 35 Taleban militants during a legitimate combat operation, the target of which was a meeting of Taleban leaders.

The villagers' accounts have been supported by separate investigations conducted by the UN, by Afghanistan's leading human rights organisation and by an Afghan government delegation.

Two Afghan army officers involved in the operation have been dismissed.

The Pentagon's original investigation concluded last week that US forces used close air support after coming under heavy fire during a mission to seize a Taleban commander named Mullah Sadiq. They allege that he died in the operation.

A Human Rights Watch report due to be published today is highly critical of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan for the number of civilians killed in air strikes.

It gives warning that repeated instances of Western forces killing Afghan civilians have led to a collapse in popular support for the international presence.

ANI

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