Over a period of eight and a half weeks, up to 6th December 2001, the United States Armed Forces are reported to have killed over three and a half thousand civilians in Afghanistan. This figure was arrived at by Prof. Mark W. Herold of the University of New Hampshire, after reviewing official press agency releases, eye witness accounts and NGO publications.

google will give you the full report, and you can judge for yourself.

I find it difficult to comment on this figure. Whatever your beliefs, whatever else may have happened, it was a terrible waste of human life.

The primary sources of information for the research were:
The Guardian - UK
the International Herald Tribune - US
The Scotsman - UK
The Los Angeles Times
The Pakistan Observer - PAK
The BBC - UK
The Times of India
Agence France Presse
The Independant - UK
Various eye witness reports, including reports from medical facilities.

Reports of casualties were not taken into account when no specific numbers were given, for instance where 'scores' or 'dozens' were reported to have been killed by American attacks.

The Pentagon briefings specifically denied that many attacks occured, even when there was clear evidence.

This may not be palatable, but should not be ignored. Please save your feelings on the justification of the attacks for elsewhere.

Coverage on civilian casualties has been sparse on the US networks. Fox news has publicly considered the issue not newsworthy. Here's a quote from Fox presenter Brit Hume: "The question I have," said Hume, "is civilian casualties are historically, by definition, a part of war, really. Should they be as big news as they've been?" (fair.org)

A memo circulated at the Panama City New Herald ran: "DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Our sister paper in Fort Walton Beach has done so and received hundreds and hundreds of threatening e-mails and the like.... DO NOT USE wire stories which lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. They should be mentioned further down in the story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT. The only exception is if the U.S. hits an orphanage, school or similar facility and kills scores or hundreds of children." (fair.org)

According to the Washingotn Post, CNN chair Walter Issacson "has ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it 'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan.'" (fair.org)

At the moment, the report itself can be seen at http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm. My apologies for the outside link, but I feel this could use better exposure.


One further note on casualty figures. Why would it be a terrible thing if 200 civilians had been killed in a bombing, but if only 50 had been killed it would be alright? No harm done? Last September, a terrorist group inflicted horrific military and civilian casualties on the US. The US, in return, did the same to their host country. In the end, That's as pretty a picture as we can paint.