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  • Insurgents continue to target Afghan civilians

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Hichmad was working in his family’s field when an improvised explosive placed by insurgents detonated, severing both legs.

    The 11-year old from Sangin district, Helmand province, and his family had no reported affiliations with coalition forces or the Taliban, and yet insurgents deliberately placed the crude device on his family’s land – an area not usually traveled by ANSF or coalition forces.

    Coalition forces heard the explosion from a nearby base and quickly responded providing lifesaving care to Hichmand, who became a casualty to feckless and desperate Taliban tactics.

    "The Americans saved my life," said Hichmad, whose legs were amputated above the knees. "But I will never walk again."

    Confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Hichmad is just one name on an endless list of Afghan victims of insurgent attacks - which have become more violent and increasingly indiscriminate.

    On May 24, Muhammad Din, a well-respected member of his community, stepped on an insurgent IED in Puzeh village, Sangin district. The bomb blew off both of his legs above the knees and lacerated his arms, groin and left eye. Puzeh villagers rushed him to a coalition base, but he died before they could transport him to a hospital. He was a single parent and in one craven attack, insurgents orphaned seven Afghan children.

    That same day, two more villagers were killed by insurgent bombs, including Haji Lalay, the brother of Haji Bismullah - a Bostanzai council member serving his community.

    In nearby Nar-e Saraj district, a 60-year-old man stepped on an insurgent bomb April 20 while walking down a frequently-traveled road. The man suffered a shattered ankle from the blast, and is recovering in a coalition hospital.

    A provincial government spokesman told the Bokhdi News Agency that "Taliban militants are behind the incident."

    The previous day, another insurgent IED attack left two children dead and six Afghan civilians wounded in neighboring Garmasir district.

    The violence is not restricted to Helmand province alone. A recent UNAMA reports estimates that nearly 80 percent of civilian deaths last year were attributable to insurgents. The report found that the largest killer of Afghan children, women and men in 2011 were insurgent IEDs. Despite their indiscriminate lethality, insurgents are increasing their use of these bombs.

    The father of a child slain in Balkh province gave this testimony in the report.

    "After searching among the injured and the dead I found [my son's] body. A piece of shrapnel had gone through his head. I passed out and was taken home by friends. My son is dead and his loss is killing me and my wife. He was the only son I had."

    Despite insurgent promises of protection, in practice they disregard the safety of innocent Afghans, the report found. Insurgent bombings are increasing, having risen 81 percent since 2010. Insurgent suicide bombers deliberately killed 431 innocent Afghans last year.
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