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Painful Legacy of US Airstrikes

Many Afghans say they had to pay a heavy price for the American bombing raids that forced the Taleban out of power.
By Rahimullah Samandar

Nazrullah will never forget the night American bombers flew over Kabul looking to destroy Taleban positions in the Afghan capital. A stray missile hit his house, killing four members of his family, including his mother and sister.


Now he lives next door to the rubble of his former home and cares for his surviving kin. "Thank God I am safe, but my three-year-old son has got a head injury and my wife has lost her mind," he told IWPR.


As for any practical help from the Americans, Nazrullah smiles ironically as he recalls a visit from a 35-man US delegation in the wake of the October airstrikes. "They gave us a pair of trousers, a ball and a pair of glasses."


Afghans were amazed by the September 11 attacks. They wondered how America, with all its modern defences, could have suffered such destruction.


Such was their bewilderment, that some began to subscribe to the conspiracy theory that America carried out the New York and Washington atrocities to justify intervention in Central Asia.


"The US wanted to have control over South Asia and get closer to China, India, Pakistan and Iran. They also want to have control over our natural resources," claimed Abdul Rahman, a former teacher of Rahman Baba high school.


The Americans went on to oust the Taleban, but in doing so they inflicted suffering on many innocent civilians. As a consequence, many ordinary Afghans are divided over the US bombing.


Some like Kamila, who lives in old Macroyan, a jumble of tower blocks built by the Russians in the Eighties, and Qambar from the Wazir Abad district, seem reluctant to criticise the Americans because they liberated them from the student militia.


A US bomb hit Kamila's block destroying 12 homes and killing her neighbour's daughter.


"September 11 was a big loss to the United States, but it was good for us because they suddenly understood that the Taleban and al-Qaeda were a big threat to the world community," she told IWPR. "The Americans wouldn't have realised our pain otherwise."


Qambar lost his home during the bombing and now works from morning to night making mud bricks. " I have borrowed 30,000,000 afghanis - 750 US dollars - so far to repair my house and I will work and pay back the money. It is good that America saved us from Taleban."


Others, such as Abdul and Nasreen, also Macroyan residents, and Rafessa, one of Qambar's relatives, feel bitter about the damage caused by the American warplanes.


"Despite the Americans having modern air technology they caused tremendous damage to this block. If we are hit by a small earthquake or even heavy rain, it will fall down," said Abdul.


"I lost my son in the bombing, my hearing is bad and two of my other children, Naseer and Zareena, suffered head injuries. Now just I want the Americans to leave us alone, because everything is destroyed," said Nasreen.


The bomb that hit Qambar's home also destroyed his father-in-law's house and killed his mother-in-law. Her daughter Rafessa said, "The enemies of the US are still moving around and America is killing us instead of them. My three daughters now have hearing problems and are afraid of everything. No one has helped us to rebuild our house."


Rahimullah Samandar is an IWPR reporter.


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