According to The New York Times, four civilians, including two women, were killed in a U.S. lead airstrike in Shindand, Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The article outlines how:
The strike took place a day earlier in Shindand District, in western Afghanistan, after Taliban fighters fired rockets at an Afghan military air base that also houses coalition forces, said Abdul Qayum Noorzai, the district police chief. The insurgents escaped on a pair of motorcycles.
A short time later, around 7 p.m., a coalition aircraft targeted four people on two motorcycles, but those struck were civilians, not the Taliban fighters who had fired the rockets, Mr. Noorzai said.
It’s a familiar enough narrative at the moment, isn’t it? ‘Terrorist’ bad guys firing rockets, and then civilians being accidentally killed when fire is returned.
Who knows if Abdul Qayum Noorzai’s version of events is accurate? The New York Times certainly don’t make any kind of effort to substantiate or refute it. Instead, we just get a bit of spiel about how the U.S. ‘ have tightened the rules governing airstrikes in recent years, and the number of deaths from them has dropped significantly’, which places the deaths in a context of the U.S. doing all it can to prevent civilian casualties. Again, a familiar enough narrative at the moment.
Nor do we learn from the article what the names of the victims were, their ages, occupations, what they looked like, their personalities, hopes, dreams, desires. Anything that might humanize them, in other words, and underline the horror of their being blown apart by high explosives.
Instead, the tone is very much one of ‘News In Brief’. A few more Afghan civilians killed by the U.S. et al, but moving swiftly on . . . People might argue that this is because details are sketchy at the moment, but if past experience is anything to go by, I don’t think the New York Times will follow the story up. And most other ‘papers and T.V. news outlets, in the U.S. and U.K., won’t even report it at all.
Shindand, incidentally, was the site of a major atrocity carried out by U.S. bombers in August 2008. A U.N. Investigation found that a whole hamlet was flattened by them, killing 60 children, 15 civilian women, and 15 civilian men.
Ask most people about the ‘Shindand massacre’, though, and I expect they wouldn’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about. That’s not a criticism of them, as much as it’s a criticism of the way corporate media very much treat stories highlighting Our atrocities as tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers.