Taliban 'using human shields'

2010-02-17 12:40
Marjah - Taliban fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in the assault on the southern town of Marjah, an Afghan official said on Wednesday as military squads resumed painstaking house-to-house searches in the Taliban stronghold.

About 15 000 Nato and Afghan troops are taking part in the offensive around Marjah, which has an estimated 80 000 inhabitants and was the largest town in southern Helmand province under Taliban control.

Nato hopes to rush in aid and public services as soon as the town is secured to try to win the loyalty of the population.

With the assault in its fifth day, insurgents are firing at Afghan troops from inside or next to compounds where women and children appear to have been ordered to stand on a roof or in a window, said General Mohiudin Ghori, the brigade commander for Afghan troops in Marjah.

"Especially in the south of Marjah, the enemy is fighting from compounds where soldiers can very clearly see women or children on the roof or in a second-floor or third-floor window," Ghori said.

"They are trying to get us to fire on them and kill the civilians."

Civilian deaths

The Marjah offensive is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan and is a major test of a retooled Nato strategy to focus on protecting civilians, rather than killing insurgents.

Ghori said troops have made choices either not to fire at the insurgents with civilians nearby or had to target and advance much more slowly in order to distinguish between militants and civilians as they go.

Even with such caution on both the Nato and Afghan side, civilians have been killed. Nato has confirmed 15 civilian deaths in the operation. Afghan rights groups say at least 19 have been killed.

A top Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund, dismissed the offensive as Nato propaganda and said on the group's website that Marjah was militarily insignificant.

Four Nato service members have been killed in the Marjah operation. An American and a Briton were killed on Saturday, while two others whose nationalities were not identified were killed Tuesday. One Afghan soldier also died Tuesday, Afghan officials said.

Small-scale attacks


The Marines and Afghan troops "saw sustained but less frequent insurgent activity" in Marjah on Wednesday, limited mostly to small-scale attacks, Nato said in a statement.

Marine officials have said that Taliban resistance has started to seem more disorganised than in the first few days of the assault, when small teams of insurgents swarmed around Marine and Afghan army positions firing rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Troops are encountering less fire from mortars and RPGs than at the start of the assault, suggesting that the insurgents may have depleted some of their reserves or that the heavier weapons have been hit, Ghori said.

Nevertheless, Taliban have not given up. Insurgent snipers hiding in haystacks in poppy fields have exchanged fire with Marines and Afghan troops in recent days as they swept south.

- AP
Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  afghanistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

The basics of BASE jumping
Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.