Afghan Parliament Demands the Arrest of US Soldiers Involved in Truck Accident

Updated

The members of the Afghan parliament seem to have forgotten how they came into their positions – through the sacrifices of the American military who ousted the Taliban, allowing their government to be created. Today, the Afghan parliament has issued a resolution calling for the arrest of the US soldiers involved in the truck accident even though the investigation into what exactly happened isn’t complete.

Afghanistan’s parliament has passed a resolution demanding the arrest of U.S. soldiers involved in a deadly car crash.

Afghan legislators passed the non-binding resolution late Tuesday, a day after the violent riots swept through the capital.

The parliament’s deputy speaker, Mohamamd Arif Noorzai says the people responsible for the deadly accident that sparked the violence should be handedfor firing on over to local authorities and prosecuted.

The riots erupted Monday moments after a U.S. military truck reportedly lost control and slammed into several cars, killing at least one person.

The accident attracted a massive crowd. Within minutes protesters started throwing rocks and hurling abuse at the U.S. soldiers. Shots were fired and at least one person was killed. Rumors soon circulated that the U.S. troops were responsible.

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Tom Collins repeated earlier claims that American forces only fired their weapons in self-defense.

The UK Times Online is also covering the story:

Today, Colonel Tom Collins said a preliminary investigation suggested that the US troops had reacted reasonably: “Our initial investigation … shows fire came from the crowd, and our soldiers used their weapons to defend themselves,” he told journalists in Kabul.

Colonel Collins said that video footage showed US troops firing a mounted machine gun over the heads of the crowd but he could not say whether any other shots were fired at Afghan civilians and who fired first. “Our investigation is still looking into this,” he said.

“Just because coalition soldiers weren’t hurt or injured doesn’t mean there wasn’t imminent danger. Deadly intent on the part of the aggressors can be a rock caving in the side of your head. Our soldiers felt threatened.”

The American attempt to smooth over the violence differed sharply to a motion passed by a closed session of the Afghan parliament yesterday.

Saleh Mohammed Saljuqi, an assistant to the parliamentary speaker, told the Associated Press today that legislators had asked the Government to prosecute those responsible for the crash and ensuing riots.

“Those responsible for the accident on Monday should be handed over to Afghan legal authorities,” Mr Saljuqi cited the motion as saying.

A US military spokeswoman, Lt. Tamara D. Lawrence, said she had not seen the motion and declined to comment. Earlier, Colonel Collins said the lorry driver was not under arrest or suspected of any wrongdoing. He said the likeliest cause of the crash was a failure of the truck’s brakes.

Reuters reports:

Afghanistan’s parliament has called for the prosecution of any U.S. soldier responsible for a truck crash that killed at least five Afghans on Monday and sparked the worst anti-U.S. riots in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban.

The decision — reached during a special closed-door session of the lower house on Tuesday — received overwhelming backing from lawmakers, Mohammad Hasib Noori, a media official in the fledgling parliament told Reuters On Wednesday.

The U.S. military says the accident was caused by brake failure as the truck descended a hill. The driver of the truck is back at his base pending an investigation but is not in custody.

Both the Afghan police and U.S. troops opened fire after a furious crowd gathered around a convoy of which the runaway truck had been part. At least seven more people were killed in unrest after the accident.

Update: Bill Roggio of the Counterterrorism Blog is in Kabul reporting on the aftermath of the riots. In his report, he stated this interesting bit of information. It seems that the rioters were ripe for something to riot about:

I spoke to several aid workers, contractors and Afghanis about the violence, and their conclusion was the demonstrations were organized, and the traffic accident was merely a catalyst. While there is frustration with driving habits of Western contractors and the military (particularly with the aggressive driving of some security company employees), the subsequent violence was primarily directed at the Karzai administration The neighborhood was targeted because of its relatively light security and the high-profile institutions that are housed there. There is concern among the community about the current security situation in Afghanistan, particularly with the increase in violence in southeastern Iraq and the murder of eight aid workers…

…There have been questions about the performance of the police during the riots. Jawed Ludin, President Hamid Karzai’s Chief of Staff, described the police’s performance as “shameful” and stated “we have to strengthen our police.” There have been reports that some police joined in the violence. But their performance was not a complete failure. Subduing a violent riot within eight hours is no small feat (see the past and current riots in France), particularly for a relatively new police and military. There has been no follow-on violence two days after the accident. And the American woman who escaped the riots in her neighborhood grudgingly gave credit to the police, which she is critical of for being heavy handed at times.

So why is the parliament focusing only on the US soldiers if there are questions surrounding the behavior of some of the Afghan police?

Note: I included a second paragraph from Roggio’s piece.

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