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Friday, 4 September 2009

NATO Burns Afghan Civilians to Death

At least 90 Afghans, including children, were burnt to death Friday, September 4, in a NATO airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers in northern Afghanistan.

"My brother was burnt when the aircraft bombed the fuel tankers,” weeping villager Ghulam Yahya told Reuters.

“I don't know whether he is dead or alive."

NATO planes bombed two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban in the northern Kunduz province, igniting a fireball that killed about 90 people.

Afghan officials say that most of those killed in the attack were Taliban militants.

"A small number of the casualties are local civilians, including a few children who had come to take free fuel," Mahbubullah Sayedi, a spokesman for the Kunduz provincial government, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Afghan spokesman, however, declined to give any further details.

Wounded people with extensive burns crowded a hospital in Kunduz, the capital of the province.

"It is very hard to collect dead bodies or remains from the blast because the fuel they were collecting was highly flammable," said Mohammad Humayun Khamosh, a doctor at the Kunduz hospital.

An AFP reporter said around eight were in terrible condition -- the skin burnt black and peeling off to expose raw red muscle.

Others were so badly wounded, they were incapable of crying, with their incinerated clothes stuck to their flesh.


Azizullah recounted the moment when the situation turned into hell-like after the NATO bombing.

"People went to get fuel. The Taliban were distributing free fuel,” said Azizullah, from Yaqubi village.

“At this time they were bombed. Eighteen people were killed from our village," added the 45-year-old at the funeral of the victims of the bombing.

Mohammad Daud, 32, was among those rushing to one of the trucks to take free fuel.

"There were 10 to 15 Taliban on top of the tanker. This was when they were bombed. Everyone around the fuel tanker died," he told AFP in hospital.

"Nobody was in one piece. Hands, legs and body parts were scattered everywhere.

“Those who were away from the fuel tanker were badly burnt," he said.

Afghan civilian deaths by NATO airstrikes are hugely sensitive and a major source of tension with the government of West-backed President Hamid Karzai.

Friday’s deadly bombing came four days after the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal's, submitted a review into the nearly eight-year war, calling for a revised strategy to defeat the Taliban and reverse the country's "serious" situation.

McChrystal's predecessor, General David McKiernan, was removed after less than a year on the job after deeply controversial airstrikes that killed dozens of civilians in western Afghanistan.