The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published an article on NATO, US, and the Red Cross and the Bala Baluk massacre on May 4, 2009. The article features a cable that shows the Red Cross put together a report that raised significant doubt about military reports on the number of civilians killed. The cable reveals how a PR campaign kicked into gear to sell the idea that the deaths were not intentional and to skew coverage of the event to fit the interests of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan.
The June 13, 2009 cable describes a remarkable meeting that took place at the US Embassy in Kabul. Leader of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, Reto Stocker, has compiled a report with exact figures on the deaths of civilians in an attack that just took place in the village of Bala Baluk Grenari region. US and NATO forces, which contend they were attacking Taliban, dropped bombs leaving a mosque in ruins. They turned the village into “an inferno of screaming, mangled and bloody people.”
In the aftermath, the Taliban and Afghan officials claimed “over 140 civilians had been killed.” Karl W. Eikenbarry, US ambassador in Kabul, said at a news conference, “We will never know the exact number” of those killed. Red Cross commander Reto Stocker said, “‘Dozens’ of people were killed.”A commission investigated the incident and concluded, “26 civilians and 78 Taliban fighters were killed.”
The claims by the US and other military forces were blatant lies, according to the cable. On top of that, the Red Cross did not challenge the lies. . . . Read the rest of this entry →