24 Feb. 2009
PR# 2009-184

Three civilians injured in northern Sangin

KABUL, Afghanistan - Three civilian Afghans were injured following an exchange of fire in and around Sareager Village, Sangin District 15 February when an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol came under enemy fire and was forced to act in self-defence. The patrol had been in the district to improve security within the village and to provide reassurance to the local population.

Enemy forces, using inaccurate small arms fire, engaged the ISAF patrol as the troops began to move through the village. The enemy attempted to harass the ISAF patrol and disrupt local security, showing no regard for the safety of any locals who might have been in the area. Upon reaching the main road through the village, ISAF troops established a Vehicle Check Point (VCP) but soon came under enemy fire from a number of locations. The ISAF troops, acting in self defence, returned accurate fire immediately.

Later that day, three male casualties were taken to the ISAF base in Sangin, and given immediate medical care by an ISAF doctor. Two of the casualties were transferred to the hospital for further medical assistance. Sadly, the third casualty died of  his wounds. 

Given when and where the three were injured, it is likely that all they had all been caught up in the exchange of fire between enemy forces and ISAF forces. After investigating these incidents and drawing on information from the individuals and their families, it is not possible to determine who fired the shots that caused these casualties. However, what is clear is that the enemy attacks on the ISAF troops were launched without thought for the safety of the local people and the ISAF troops acted appropriately and in accordance with their right of self defence.

Commander Paula Rowe, Spokesperson for Task Force Helmand, said: “The enemy chooses to fight from within local communities, using houses and compounds as firing points and deliberately putting local people in harm’s way.  In this case, it was the enemy who began the attacks and the enemy who we hold ultimately responsible for the death of a local man and injury to two others”  

ISAF regrets any injuries caused to civilians. ISAF soldiers are trained to take steps to minimize civilian casualties, whilst at the same time taking appropriate action to protect them selves when threatened. The insurgents however, choose to engage with ISAF within populated areas clearly placing the local Afghan communities at extreme risk of injury.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/