NATO troops kill four people on bus in Afghanistan

Monday, April 12, 2010

NATO troops opened fire on a bus in Afghanistan earlier today, killing at least four people and injuring a further eighteen.

According to NATO, its patrol soldiers started shooting at a bus in the Zhari district of the Kandahar province when the vehicle's driver would not heed warnings, such as flares and signals, to stop.

NATO says its patrol fired on a large vehicle after the driver refused warnings to stop in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. The troops later found out that the bus was full of civilian passengers.

In a statement, the organization said: "Perceiving a threat when the vehicle approached once more at an increased rate of speed, the patrol attempted to warn off the vehicle with hand signals prior to firing upon it. Once engaged, the vehicle then stopped."

One of those killed in the shooting was a woman, the NATO International Security Assistance Force later confirmed.

The vehicle's driver, who was not wounded in the shootings, recounted his experiences to the Agence France-Presse news agency, saying: "They opened fire at us and I fell unconscious. The people who were killed were sitting in the seats just behind me." According to him, the military convoy was 70–100 metres away from his bus when the troops opened fire.

Dozens of local residents protested the killings, spilling out into the streets. They blocked the main road out of Kandahar. Chanting "Death To America", they called for the downfall of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. The latter denounced the shootings, and said that "[t]his shooting involving a civilian bus violates Nato's commitment to safeguard civilian life."

Mohammad Razaq, a local resident, commented: "The Americans are constantly killing our civilians and the government is not demanding an explanation. We demand justice from the Karzai government and the punishment of those soldiers responsible," as quoted by Al Jazeera.