NATO Apologizes For Killing 4 Unarmed Afghans, Admits They Weren't 'Known Insurgents'

06/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NATO apologizes for killing 4 unarmed Afghans, says it was a "mistake" to claim they were insurgents. The victims, their family claims, were civilians driving home from a volleyball game, reports the AP.

NATO officials had earlier claimed that the victims' fingerprints matched those in a military biometric database of "known insurgents." But the New York Times reports that NATO now says the database "has not yet been determined to be relevant" to the attack.

NATO has pledged to investigate the attack, which it now calls a "tragic loss of life," and to ensure that its troops "implement critical lessons learned from previous incidents."

Kandaharis favor talks with the Taliban by a margin of 19 to 1, poll finds. According to a study by the U.S. Army's Human Terrain system, 5 of 6 Kandahar residents also view the Taliban as "our Afghan brothers," DAWN reports.

While many poll respondents blamed the Taliban for insecurity in the region, more than half called them "incorruptible," while two out of three said the local Afghan government's corruption forced them to seek help elsewhere, including from the Taliban. These findings help explain why NATO spokespeople have emphasized that their recent surge into Kandahar is primarily an anti-corruption operation rather than an anti-Taliban one.

Taliban: No talks until U.S. withdraws. The Afghan insurgent group rejected a report published in the Sunday Times earlier this week claiming that the Taliban were prepared to negotiate with the U.S. immediately, the Nation reports.

The Taliban, in a statement, added that "talks with America in the presence of foreign forces would mean giving their invasion legitimacy.

Kandahar hunkers down as violence from Taliban, "mafia" rises. Julius Cavendish, writing in the Independent, says frequent suicide attacks and targeted killings have turned Kandahar into "a city gripped by fear:"

Roads are now shut and the drab march of blast barriers [which were long commonplace in Kabul] has begun. It is just one sign that things are getting worse. Foreigners cannot walk down the street or stop in the bazaar to gauge the local climate. Meetings invariably take place in private rooms deep inside fortified compounds.

Residents say organized crime is as much of a threat as the Taliban. "I won't say the names of these people but everyone knows who they are," said one Afghan. "There are two or three people at Kandahar airfield and maybe 10 in Kandahar City. You can't say anything about these guys. The government is involved with them."

Britain "on trial" over torture allegations. Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), a group which previously worked on allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq, argued in the U.K. High Court yesterday that the British government was complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees.

The allegations deal with nine prisoners transferred by British officials to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) between June 2006 and November 2007. The NDS is alleged to have subjected the detainees to "beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables." PIL lawyer Michael Fordham argued that because the NDS was known to mistreat prisoners, Britain was complicit in its actions.

Though the British government stopped handing Afghan detainees over to the NDS in 2009, it denies any wrongdoing in transferring the nine detainees cited in the PIL's case.

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