Afghan night raid survivors, in their own words

KABUL Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:49am EST

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KABUL (Reuters) - The growing use of "night raids" by NATO-led and Afghan forces to kill or capture insurgents is one of the most controversial strategies in the Afghan war.

Here are some accounts by Afghan civilians of night raids they experienced, which left them injured or bereaved.

HAMIDULLAH, Jalalabad city, aged 13.

Hamidullah says he was bitten by a dog during a night raid on his house, and lifts up the leg of his trousers to show big scars around his that appear to be bite marks.

ISAF declined immediate comment on photos of the scars.

"I was asleep, I woke up from a dream, and when I went to the door the dog bit me. It was one or two o'clock in the morning, about two years ago. I was 11 at the time, now I'm 13 years old."

"I got no medical help for the wound, except the U.S. soldiers bandaged it up with gauze before they left. I got no compensation either, but it doesn't hurt now, it is not painful."

"Our windows are still damaged because on the day they came they blasted the door out with a bomb. There were 4 or 5 other small children in the house at the time, and some women in a side room, but there were no others hurt, just me."

"Seven people were arrested that night, they were released after six days, except one who was released after four months. First they went to Jalalabad airbase, then three were taken to Bagram. They were mostly Americans, with two translators."

AHMAD NOOR, Sherzad district, Laghman province, aged 26.

Reuters first interviewed slightly built Ahmad Noor in early February, the day after his house was hit by what he says was a coalition bomb.

He was sitting on the edge of a hospital bed accompanied by two women in burqas, one with her arm bandaged and the other with her foot treated and bound.

"It was around 9 p.m. There were two or three helicopters, one jet plane and some American vehicles on the road and then two or three rockets came on my home."

"We were sleeping, although in the village some of the people were awake still. The window of my room was shattered, a rocket came through the window. I was very frightened and there was dust all around the yard," he said, looking dazed and exhausted.

"We had 11 people in the house at the time. There was no clinic near our home, although my wife had foot injuries, but we had to wait to this morning to come to the hospital."

"I found out then one of our neighbors was martyred (killed). He was an innocent man."

The interview was stopped at this point by the hospital director, on the orders of the provincial governor.

"Nobody is injured, no one killed, there are no problems, there was no bombardment," he said. Local journalists say attempts to pressure the media over air raids are rising.

ANONYMOUS, Khogyani district, aged mid-50s

A large man, dressed in immaculate traditional clothes and a shawl to keep off the winter chill, he had been detained and released without charge several years ago but wanted to talk about a more recent incident.

He acknowledged that the raid had killed a legitimate insurgent target, but objected to all the collateral civilian deaths that the night-time attack caused.

A daytime swoop on the compound would have netted the same results with far fewer deaths, he said.

"I am in trouble with the Americans already -- it's best if you do not use my name," he said of his previous arrest.

"There was an operation in Sherzad district around two months ago. Mullah Daoud was martyred with 27 other people."

"He was an 'anti-government element' from the village but about 50 percent of the dead were civilians. Some animals were killed as well."

"They were sleeping in a house at night-time. ISAF came and bombarded the house directly then also sent in soldiers. Some people they killed after capturing. They came by helicopter, and gave no warning to the people in the house."

"I was in the district but another village, not that close, but we heard helicopters. It was night so it was difficult to identify the number."

"No women were killed, two were injured. Four children were killed. There was first a bombardment -- I think I heard three or four bombs -- then shooting. Those killed were all killed in the place, not taken away first."

ANWAR UL HAQ, Nazarabad village, aged 61.

The father-in-law of Amanullah, a mechanic with a workshop in Kabul who was killed on a visit home on April 29, 2010. The dead man's sister-in-law was an MP, but her efforts to have the case investigated came to nothing.

"He called to say he's coming to Jalalabad the next day, and arrived and was sleeping in my home at around 12.30 or one in the morning. One of my neighbors (and relatives) telephoned to tell me that there were some thieves entering my house and then we saw they were Americans."

"They used the ladders to come up to the roof and then they came down in from there. I don't remember any calling out or anything. They directly pointed at my son-in-law and shot him. He was sleeping at the time, but they shot him in his chest, with 10 or 12 bullets."

"Then they told me to raise my hands. I was sitting for 30 minutes and they masked and covered my face. Then I was sent to a bathroom. There were three others in my family, my cousins who lived in the same home, who were also in the bathroom."

"It was small, only three or four people could fit in the bathroom standing up. They had dogs with them, to search everything."

"They asked us who is coming to your home, who is coming. I said no one, only my son-in-law is my guest. His dead body was left in the room until eight in the morning. 'We have reports that there are Taliban come here', they said."

"Everybody interviewed us and nothing happened. We went to president Karzai and we only took a glass of tea with no sweets."

"The troops took nothing with them. No real damage to the property, but after this point the number of such incidents increased. They come during the nights."

"Whenever they shoot or kill anybody, they call him al Qaeda whether he is or not."

(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Paul Tait and Miral Fahmy)

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