SARACHA, Afghanistan–The dusty cemetery in Saracha village hosts three new graves: small hills of soil shielding the bodies of Sahebullah, Wasihullah and Amanullah, three of the five boys and young men killed by an ISAF-NATO airstrike on late Friday, Oct. 4.
According to the firsts ISAF-NATO reports, the five were “enemy forces”, “insurgents”, killed with a “precision strike”. According to the white banner overlooking their graves, they are “martyrs”: innocent people killed by error.
Wasihullah and Amanullah were brothers. They used to live in a house not far from the cemetery in Saracha village in the district of Beshud at the door of Jalalabad, the main city in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Their father, Qasim Hazrat Khan, shows IPS the place where they were killed, just behind his house.
“Give us the pilots of the two helicopters. We will handle them according to our culture, to the Holy Quran and to what the Hadith prescribes. Then, we will give them back to the U.S., saying ‘we are very sorry’, as they did with us.”
Amanullah was about 21 years old (civil registries here are not common), and had a wife and three daughters. Khan produces a card showing that Amanullah was working for the Afghan government forces since March this year.
His brother Wasihullah was 10 years old, a student in fifth class in Samarkheel’s high school, not far from Saracha. Friday evening they were with Sahebullah, 14, who “was an apprentice in a metalworkers shop in Jalalabad,” his brother Nader Shah, 35, told IPS.
Asadullah Delsos and Gul Nabi were the other two boys with them. Asadullah, “a 14-year-old boy, was still waiting to have his first whiskers,” said Khan. Gul Nabi “was a 15-year-old boy, whose family comes from Pachir in Khogyani district. He worked as a carpenter in Kabul, but he used to come here whenever his parents needed his help.”
Khan said the five boys were sitting in the open space behind his house “after they went hunting for birds with badì (air guns).” Around 10 pm he heard “the first of three long-lasting shooting-sequences. When it stopped, I reached the roof and saw at least two helicopters and, far from here, some planes without pilots.”
When the shooting started again, he waited inside the house until he heard someone screaming: “Brother, your kids have been killed.”
He came out and tried to reach them, he said, “but the American soldiers told me to keep away.” The bodies were carried to the main Jalalabad hospital “only at 1.40 am,” said Nader Shah. “We were able to have them back in our hands after 2.30 am.”
Early Saturday morning Asadullah’s father Dagarwal Khan Agha, a logistics officer in the city jail received a call. He had thought his son was sleeping in his parents’ house in Saracha. “They said I had to go to the hospital. Once there, I was told my son was in the morgue.”
The elder brother of Dagarwal Khan Agha, Malim Said Agha, still cannot understand “how those young boys could be confused with insurgents. They were just kids. The Americans killed innocent people. This was confirmed by the Afghan authorities,” he told IPS.
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