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Defense did nothing with warnings about civilian deaths in the Afghan city of Chora | NOW

Dutch soldiers in Uruzgan were warned by allies both before and during the bombing of the city and region of Chora in 2007 about the high risk of civilian casualties. Defense, however, ignored those warnings De Volkskrant Saturday based on state secret documents. Ultimately, some 50 to 80 Afghan civilians were killed in the bombing.

What was the Netherlands doing in Uruzgan again?

  • The Netherlands was on a NATO mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan from 2006 to 2010.
  • The military had to ensure the stability and security of the country after the Taliban movement had held power for years (with much violence).
  • During the mission, the Taliban had passed its peak of power, but by no means disappeared from the country. There was still regular fighting against the Taliban.

Defense has always said it was a fight against “eight hundred to a thousand” Taliban fighters, accidentally hitting civilian casualties. The secret documents, those de Volkskrant could see thanks to an appeal to the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob), however, it shows that the Netherlands consciously took a risk.

The military ignored warnings from NATO headquarters in the city of Kandahar three times, according to the log of the time. The Dutch could not clearly see whether the bombs they threw really would end up on Taliban fighters or on civilians.

Under war law, the Dutch are only allowed to fire (or in this case: drop bombs) if they themselves are first threatened. NATO therefore doubted that. Earlier, the Dutch legal adviser had also warned about possible civilian casualties.

‘Warned as many citizens as possible’

In a response, the Ministry of Defense said it tried to warn as many civilians as possible about the bombing at the time. However, the military considered it important to protect the city of Chora “with all possible means”, because “there was a threat of slaughter for the local police and population”.

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In addition, Chora was of strategic importance because of the important roads in the region, and would “have put the credibility of Dutch soldiers at risk” if Chora were to regain control of the Taliban.

On Monday, a case by four Afghan relatives against the Dutch state is pending. They are seeking damages because, according to their lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, excessive violence has been used, and it was not clear why their homes were bombed, according to the newspaper..

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