Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Reuters correspondent Matt Robinson provides a rare glimpse of night raids by U.S. forces in Afghanistan that are again on the rise in an effort to break the back of the insurgency. Here’s his story from a village in Paktika province near the eastern border with Pakistan. (Picture by Matt Robinson)
First the men were separated from the women and children and made to crouch outside on the frozen ground, wrapped in blankets. Then the soldiers went room-to-room, torches shining from raised rifles.
It was night in Ateh Khaneh, a cluster of adobe houses ringed with high mud walls near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, and the U.S. army’s 101st Airborne Division had received a tip-off.
A man named Mullah Ibrahim, known to U.S. forces as a prominent Taliban commander in the Yahya Khel district of Paktika province, had gathered a small group of fighters for an imminent attack on a nearby U.S. military base.
NATO has admitted that its forces were responsible for the deaths of five Afghan civilians including three women during a botched night-time raid in eastern Afghanistan in February. Two of the women were pregnant, one a mother of 10, the other had six children.
The alliance initially said troops had found the women already killed, bound and gagged, when they entered the compound in Gardez in Paktia province, but later acknowledged that was untrue. NATO is now looking at allegations by Afghan investigators that U.S. Special Forces involved in the raid tampered with evidence at the scene to cover the blunder.