Special Representative Kai Eide on civilian casualties caused by military operations in Shindand
26 August 2008 - Following reports of large numbers of civilian casualties caused during military operations in Shindand district of Herat province, UNAMA’s human rights team has now returned from a mission to the affected area to investigate these reports.
This team met with the District Governor and local elders yesterday. They also interviewed people from a number of households in Nawabad village who confirmed to us that at around midnight on the 21st August, foreign and Afghan military personnel entered the village of Nawabad in the Azizabad area of Shindand district. Military operations lasted several hours during which air strikes were called in. The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident with some 7-8 houses having been totally destroyed and serious damage to many others. Local residents were able to confirm the number of casualties, including names, age and gender of the victims.
Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men. 15 other villagers were wounded or otherwise injured.
This is matter of grave concern to the United Nations, I have repeatedly made clear that the safety and welfare of civilians must be considered above all else during the planning and conduct of all military operations. The impact of such operations undermines the trust and confidence of the Afghan people in efforts to build a just, peaceful, and law-abiding state.
It is vital that the International and Afghan military forces thoroughly review the conduct of this operation in order to prevent a repeat of this tragic incident. I offer my sincere condolences to all those families who have suffered and offer every assistance to the authorities as they work to help the survivors.