Wounded Afghan civilians tell how it happened

 

McClatchy Foreign Staff

A new report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the number of civilians who’d been killed and wounded in the war rose 23 percent in the first half of the year over the same period last year. It was a reversal of a decline that had been recorded last year, due in part to greater fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban as the U.S.-led international coalition takes a smaller role in the fighting.

Here are the stories of some of the wounded, in their own words.

Mohammad Sadiq

(Sadiq is a tanker truck driver who delivers fuel to U.S. bases.)

We’ve been ambushed three times on the Kabul-Kandahar highway in Wardak province, and I survived the first two but I was trapped in the third one, and I caught some bullets.

In the first ambush, they fired at me, but the bullets hit the fuel tanker and I never stopped. The same happened in the second ambush. But in the third ambush, a burned fuel tanker was ahead of me and one of the Taliban fighters was hiding behind that. He came out and pointed the gun at me and told me to stop but I didn’t, so he jumped up on the right door of the truck, but the door was locked and he was hanging on there. He told me to turn down a narrow road which goes to their village, but instead of that I sped up. Then another one of them fired bullets at me.

I was afraid that if they captured me alive they would torture me, then kill me. I preferred to die there instead of being caught alive by them.

I was unconscious for about 20 seconds, then I woke up again and saw that the truck was still going and hitting some trees on the side of the road. I drove toward a police checkpoint, but the Taliban hit the truck with a rocket and it caught on fire and I had to jump out.

They were armed with AK-47s and PK (machine guns) and I was hit by both. I don’t know how many bullets I took. I lost two fingers on my right hand and the third one is partly damaged but it was treated in this hospital.

If my hands work properly again, then I have to keep driving the tanker. I have no other choice, and I don’t have any other skills, and I am the only one who feeds the family. Three of my colleagues who do the same job have been killed and six others injured. All the drivers in my company are afraid when they drive toward the south, but we surrender ourselves to God and continue to do this job because we are all illiterate and this is the only way we can feed our families.

A woman from Logar province

(She’d brought her son to the hospital in Kabul run by the charity Emergency. She spoke only on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retaliation.)

He’s 4 years old and his name is Rabiullah. There was massive fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan National Army, and a mortar hit our house. One of my daughters, who is 12, was also injured but she’s discharged from the hospital now.

I have eight children. They were in the hall of our house when the mortar hit. That hall was destroyed. These mortars were shot by the Afghan National Army, not the Taliban. The incident occurred around 20 days ago, and the fighting happens almost every day, and we always stay at home when there is fighting.

There are no airstrikes now where we are, but the ground fighting continues on a daily basis. Now they are also firing rockets and mortars on the civilians. Taliban are coming in and going out of the village always, and the ANA is always chasing them and shooting at them.

Mohammad Nabi

(Nabi is a 19-year-old high school student from Logar province.)

I was going to school in the morning, and suddenly there were shots behind me. I was hit and fell to the ground. It was about 10 bullets, they say, that hit my back, arm, my back thighs and waist. I don’t know if these bullets were fired by Taliban or someone else. There was no fighting between any groups at that instant. There is fighting almost every day between the Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban, but still the fighting has decreased in our area because ANA has set up several checkpoints in the area.

The doctors told me that I will fully recover, and I am getting well every day, but slowly.

The incident occurred around two weeks ago. A friend was with me and he was also hit, but I have no information about him. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. My friends have told me that he’s alive and doing well, but I am worried that they aren’t telling the truth because I’m injured now.

What happened still bothers me. Many times at night I suddenly wake up. I am dreaming about my family and friends.

Zmaryalia

(Zmaryalia, 27, a father of two sons, was transferred from a state hospital in Laghman province. Like many Afghans, he has only one name.)

My father is a tribal elder. We don’t have any personal animosity toward the Taliban, nor do I blame Taliban or any other side for this incident. I was driving my father’s car when it happened. Somebody had planted a magnet-attached bomb onto my father’s car. These types of bombs have become more common.

When the car blew up, I felt that I lost my feet but I somehow managed to call my father and tell him about the incident and my whereabouts. My brother was with me, and he was killed. My family didn’t tell me about him, but I know that he’s dead now. His name was Shafiqullah and he was 18 years old.

In our area, there sometimes is fighting. Taliban attack military convoys or the army attacks them. But there is no regular violence in our area.

I can’t tell you who did this. It could be anybody. We are not involved with the government or with the Taliban. It could have been caused by a tribal man, but who knows?

I certainly will have problems in the future. I had my own legs in the past, but now I am a disabled person and I need some care myself.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong gender for Zmaryalia.

Email: jayprice@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @jayinkabul

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