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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Afghan civilian killed ‘by accident’

Norwegian military officials were trying to fend off violent reaction from either the Taliban or Afghan civilians, after a Norwegian soldier accidently unleashed a grenade that sent splinters into a police station in northern Afghanistan earlier this week, killing an occupant inside.

The incident occurred when a Norwegian soldier set off a weapon called the GMG 40mm, which was mounted on top of an Iveco vehicle. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday that use of the weapon is new to many soldiers, suggesting that inexperience led to the firing of a grenade, splinters of which ripped through a wall of the police station and hit two civilian Afghans inside.

One suffered injuries said to be minor, and he was rushed to a Norwegian field hospital in Maimanah for treatment. The other Afghan citizen, however, was killed. Both were plumbers employed by a company in Meymaneh.

Both Afghan police, military and civilian were inside the building when the accident occurred, and Col Petter Lindqvist told Aftenposten he doubted the incident could be used for propaganda by the Taliban. Both the Taliban and other insurgents usually are quick to exploit incidents involving civilian casualties in Afghanistan, to boost their support for their own battle against international forces in Afghanistan.

Since the grenade firing occurred inside a military camp, Linqvist and his colleagues were hoping to avoid Taliban reaction. They also were working hard to convey their apologies over the incident, calling it “a tragic accident” that they hoped wouldn’t set off local civilian rage.

A Norwegian officer was among those killed earlier this spring when furious Afghan civilians protested the burning of a Koran by an American preacher. International forces in Afghanistan also have been the subject of fury over earlier civilian killings.

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