NATO, Afghanistan, Civilian Casualties and Damage Control « The Washington Independent
After the confusion over what happened during a December U.S.-Afghan raid in Kunar Province that resulted in about nine deaths, the NATO command in Afghanistan, known as ISAF, is reacting more rapidly to potentially damaging stories about civilian casualties.
Xinhua reported earlier today that a protest in Helmand Province’s Garmsir District included NATO forces firing on demonstrators. (I can’t find the actual report, but here’s a Xinhua follow-up.) The story is starting to spread across the Internet. So ISAF’s media branch emailed this flat denial of the story out to reporters just minutes ago:
ISAF forces did not open fire on civilians in Garmsir District as claimed in a report from the Chinese wire service Xinhua.
As noted in our previous press release, during today’s protest an insurgent sniper shot an Afghan official who was within Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dehili. ISAF service members identified the insurgent sniper, shot and killed him. There were no other injuries or shots fired by ISAF forces.
Local ISAF task force leadership in Garmsir District have been invited to participate with the District Governor and Chief of Police in a shura tomorrow.
Yesterday a poll came out reflecting a surprising Afghan comfort with foreign forces. Clearly NATO wants to husband that apparent support.