U.S. military officials on Tuesday refuted claims from the United Nations and Afghan government that a U.S. airstrike in western Afghanistan two weeks ago killed up to 90 Afghan civilians, saying that a complete investigation into the incident found that only five civilians were killed.
A review of video footage, photos and an analysis of burial sites following the strike in Azizabad village in Herat province in the early morning hours of Aug. 22 found that 30 to 35 Taliban insurgents and five civilian relatives of a Taliban commander died in the attack, according to a summary of the findings released Tuesday evening. Two other civilians were injured, it said.
Lt. Nathan Perry, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said the new report’s conclusions would be passed on to NATO officials who last week called for a joint inquiry with U.S., U.N. and Afghan officials into the airstrike. “This is more than just a statement. This is forensic evidence, so we’re going to pass it on as part of the joint investigation so that hopefully any discrepancies will be resolved,” Perry said.
Tunnel discovered near U.S. border
Mexican authorities have arrested eight men after discovering a sophisticated tunnel, believed to be designed to ferry drugs, that nearly reached into U.S. territory.
Baja California state preventive police said Tuesday they were acting on a tip when they raided a Mexicali home Monday afternoon and found some of the suspects hard at work in the passage that stretched more than a football field in length.
The tunnel’s destination appeared to be a residential neighborhood across the border in Calexico. The tunnel, which had not crossed into U.S. territory, appeared to be well-financed and expertly constructed.
It had a rail and cart system, ventilation, lighting and an electric lift to transport items up and down the shaft, authorities said. “What they had constructed was very sophisticated,” said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose agents inspected the tunnel.
Military considers bearskin alternative
After meeting with animal rights activists, the British military said Tuesday that it will study alternative materials to replace the bearskin hats worn by the soldiers who guard Buckingham Palace.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, supported by some members of Parliament, says killing Canadian black bears to make the headgear is cruel. PETA says it will ask clothes designers to draw up a new hat using synthetic materials.
Although Canadian black bears are not an endangered species, sentiment has grown in Britain against using the fur for headgear that has no military purpose other than as a ceremonial adornment.
The Defense Ministry has said it is open to using synthetics but has yet to find a high-quality, weather-resistant replacement for the fur. It said Tuesday it will discuss the issue further in October.