Box of public information leaflets, not 500 pound bomb, killed Afghan girl

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London, Oct.1 (ANI): Eight days into Operation Panther's Claw it was not a 500lb bomb that killed an unnamed girl on June 27 this year, but a box of public-information leaflets.

According to the British Defence Ministry, the box failed to come apart after it was thrown out of the back of an RAF Hercules, and came crashing down on the girl, who later died of her wounds.

According to The Guardian, the purpose of the leaflets was never disclosed.

But the daily is of the view that these leaflets were an attempt to persuade people that British soldiers had come to help, or they could have been urging voters to register for the recent presidential elections.

Communicating messages to the Afghans is an important part of the NATO mission, with the German army nominally in charge of "psychological operations", producing billboards and handbills.

Ingenious graphics are used to try to get across basic ideas to a largely illiterate audience: evil cartoon poppies with fanged teeth are supposed to be suggestive of the evils of opium production and convoluted photo-stories warn of the dangers of interfering with roadside bombs.

Airdrops of leaflets tend to be concentrated in dangerous parts of the south where it is not possible for troops to hand out bits of paper. Other items have been dropped, including footballs decorated with the world's flags, courtesy of the US military last year. But these caused huge offence - and sparked demonstrations - due to the inadvertent inclusion of the Qur'anic verses on Saudi Arabia's flag.

The paper says that in safe areas of the country, Nato publishes a fortnightly newspaper, Voice of Freedom, which packages up banal good-news stories about the construction of schools and hospitals.

With short articles printed three times over in Dari, Pashtu and English, psy-ops workers believe the biggest audience is among eople trying to improve their English. (ANI)

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