Annual Report: Afghanistan 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Afghanistan 2011

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  • On 18 January, Taleban suicide bombers and gunmen attacked major government buildings, the Kabul Serena Hotel, a shopping mall and cinema in central Kabul. Seven people, including a child, were killed and at least 35 civilians were injured.
  • On 26 February, four suicide bombers attacked a guesthouse in Kabul city. At least 16 people, most of them foreign medical staff, were killed and more than 50 were injured. The Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack but the Afghan government blamed the Pakistan-based armed group Lashkar-e Taiba for the attack.
  • On 3 May, Taleban suicide bombers and gunmen attacked government buildings in Nimroz province and killed 13 people, including Gul Makai Osmani, a legislator.
  • On 9 June, at least 40 people were killed and more than 70 wounded when a suicide bomber struck a wedding celebration in the southern province of Kandahar. Fourteen children were among the dead.

Abductions

On 26 September, Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker, and three Afghan colleagues, were kidnapped by members of the Taleban in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan. The three kidnapped Afghan aid workers were released on 3 October but Linda Norgrove was apparently killed by US special forces during a rescue attempt.

Unlawful killings

  • On 8 June, the Taleban hanged a seven-year-old boy, accusing him of spying for British forces in southern Helmand province.
  • On 5 August, 10 members of the International Assistance Mission, an aid organization, were killed in southern Badakhshan province on their return from a medical mission. Both the Taleban and Hezb-e Islami claimed responsibility for the attack and accused the victims of being missionaries.

Violations by Afghan and international forces

ANSO reported that 401 civilians were killed by international and Afghan security forces, a decrease of 14 per cent from 2009. Air attacks remained the most harmful operations tactic, accounting for 53 per cent of civilian deaths attributed to international and Afghan security forces. Thirty-seven per cent of the deaths occurred during ground operations, including night raids.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) issued tactical directives in March and August to lessen the impact of fighting on civilians. The former sought to regulate night raids and the latter was aimed at regulating aerial strikes and indiscriminate fire on residential compounds. However, there was an increase in the number of night raids, particularly in the eastern and southern region of Afghanistan, which often resulted in civilian casualties.

  • On 21 February, 27 civilians were killed and 12 others wounded near the border of Dai Kundi and Uruzgan provinces, when two US military helicopters fired on several civilian vehicles mistakenly believed to be carrying insurgents.
  • On 23 July, as many as 45 civilians, including children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Helmand province.
  • On 4 August, more than 12 Afghan civilians died during a night raid by US troops hunting for Taleban in Nangarhar province.
  • On 11 August, three brothers were killed during a night raid by NATO and US forces in Wardak province. The deaths sparked an anti-American protest in the area, where villagers said the brothers were civilians and not insurgents.

Neither the Afghan judiciary, nor the governments contributing to ISAF, demonstrated the ability or willingness to provide proper accountability or compensation for victims of violations by pro-government forces.

Freedom of expression

Afghan journalists continued to report critically on events, risking harassment, violence, and censorship. The Afghan authorities, especially the intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), arbitrarily detained journalists. The Attorney General’s Office illegally closed down radio stations and censored other media outlets. One of the most common grounds for applying such restrictions was the vague and undefined charge of being anti-Islamic.

The Taleban and other anti-government groups continued to target journalists and blocked almost all reporting from areas under their control.