Afghanistan rights panel says Marines violated humanitarian law in March killings

[JURIST] An Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) [official website] report [text, PDF] released Saturday concludes that a US Marine Corps Special Forces unit under the command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) [official website] violated international humanitarian law by using indiscriminate and excessive force in its response to a March 4 suicide bombing against the unit's convoy in Nangahar province. The report found that following the initial attack, the Marines unit indiscriminately and "repeatedly used forced, shooting at vehicles and pedestrians" at the immediate site of the attack, but also in "several different locations along the next [10 miles] of the road" killing at least 12 people and injuring another 35. The report also details a possible cover-up, as journalists were "hindered from accessing the site and some were expressly threatened and forced to delete all pictures and videos they had taken." The AIHRC urged the United States to "ensure that the victims of the incident and their families receive an apology and are effectively compensated for their injures."

Earlier this week a US military commander referred the incident to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) [official website] after his own investigation revealed that the Marines may have indiscriminately fired upon Afghan civilians [JURIST report] following the initial attack. The Marines Special Forces unit belonged to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit [official website] and had been only deployed to Afghanistan in January of 2007. The unit, numbering about 120, has since been ordered out of Afghanistan. AP has more.



 

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