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Afghanistan - airstrike

Germany could have violated Nato rules: Washington Post

Article published on the 2009-09-06 Latest update 2009-09-06 11:44 TU

Afghan villagers pray over the graves of their relatives who died in Friday's air strike(Photo: Reuters)

Afghan villagers pray over the graves of their relatives who died in Friday's air strike
(Photo: Reuters)

The directive from a German commander to bomb two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Friday was based on a single Afghan informant report, therefore against Nato rules, according to a report published by the US newspaper The Washington Post on Sunday. The attack killed 125 people and at least two dozen were not insurgents, according to the Nato fact-finding team on the ground that investigated the bombing Saturday.

In an effort to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, US General Stanley A. McChrystal recently issued an order stating that Nato forces cannot bomb residential areas based on one source of information. McChrystal is the new commander of the Nato Afghanistan mission.

The order is not specifically for targets out in the open, such as the two tankers, but it does apply to all aerial bombing maneuvers, according to the report in the Post.

In an effort to change the pattern that had been previously followed with other Nato commanders in Afghanistan, McChrystal immediately sent a team to the area to investigate the bombing after international outcry that civilians were a significant part of the casualties.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called for a further look into the civilian deaths from the air strike.

"The priority is to shed the full light on the circumstances and the definitive toll of this operation," Kouchner said in a statement.

Kouchner on Saturday stressed that the West's strategy in Afghanistan must be to "work with the Afghan people, not bomb them."

McChrystal has not said that civilians had been killed in the airstrike, while a local Afghan leader claims that six civilians, including a child, were among the 54 killed during the bombing.

In related news, a French soldier who was injured in Afghanistan on Friday in a bomb attack has died from his wounds.