Gerani airstrike victims’ families still live with horror
FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Family members of a 2009 NATO airstrike victims in the Bala Buluk district of western Farah province on Wednesday demanded an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan to avoid a reputation of the deadly incident that claimed innocent lives in the dark of night.
The airstrike by a US Air Force B-1 Bomber on May 4, 2009 struck the village of Gerani from evening till 9:15pm. Following the airstrike, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that 140 civilians had been killed and 25 others wounded in the incident.
But at the time, the US claimed it fighter jet targeted insurgents and the airstrike was aimed at dismantling rebel infrastructure.
The attack was considered the deadliest as far as civilian causalities were concerned in the history of Afghanistan.
After the lost of innocent people in the air raid, then president Hamid Karzai had asked the US to bring to a halt airstrikes which targeted civilians. But the US ignored his call and similar incidents followed.
Syed Nizam Agha, who lost his 15 family members in the Gerani airstrike, told Pajhwok Afghan News he could not forget that night when innocent people shouted for help while bleeding.
With tears running down his cheeks, Nizam said he lost his wife, three sons, as many daughters, a bride daughter-in-law, six grand daughters, and mother-in-law.
The 57-year-old said only three members of his family survived the airstrike. He said he was struggling with multiple problems including economic hardships.
He said it was the worst day of his life and of the entire villagers, who still lived with horror and stayed indoors fearing fighting between security forces and insurgents.
The day the airstrike took place there had been fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces, he said. But at the end of the day, the fighting came to a close and the Taliban went out of their village.
“But hours later, the foreign forces carried out the airstrike and hit the village with bombs killing people and destroying their homes.”
Nizam Agha said he was terrified after the airstrike. The dead bodies were collected with the help of a tractor. It was the year they voted to elect the country’s president.
He said many charred bodies which were beyond recognition were buried in a mass grave, but others were recognized and buried in single graves.
He said most of the houses were destroyed and damaged in the incident that rendered many family members of the victims psychologically ill.
Syed Nizam said the government paid 100,000 afghanis for each dead, but he received the compensation money for his 12 family members out of 15 who were killed. He said no one could forget their family members’ bodies which were in terrible condition.
Abdul Malik, a member of the Ishaqzai tribe in Gerani village, said the entire village was turned into a hell by the airstrike.
He said 54 people from the Ishaqzai village alone were killed in the airstrike. He said some of his family members were killed in the bombardment and others survived to lead a miserable life.
Family members of the slain civilians asked the government to bring to a halt operations by foreign forces in the country and offensives that threatened the lives of innocent people.
Nizam said they became unhappy when they heard about the loss of civilians in military operations.
Recalling the Gerani airstrike, he said: “Powerful individuals or countries cannot be brought to justice in this world. We exhibited patience and left everthing to Allah because Allah helps those who exhibit great patience.”
Deputy Governor Mohammad Younus Rasouli said US forces bombarded the Gerani village after Taliban militants sought refuge in people’s homes. He said the government had provided compensation money to families of the victims and had sent one person from each family for Umra in Saudi Arabia. Rasouli was deputy governor when the airstrike took place.
He said 38 villages destroyed in the airstrike were rehabilitated by the government in cooperation with the International Organization of Migration.
He said the then government formed a delegation to investigate the airstrike but the result of the investigation had not been shared with the provincial government.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.