Two weeks after it launched a major airstrike in Azizabad, the American military is still insisting that only 5 to 7 civilians died in the raid. But the villagers, the Afghan government, the UN and human rights groups all say that the civilian death toll was much higher—that more than 90 Afghans were killed, mostly women and children. Yesterday, the senior American commander in Afghanistan launched an investigation into the massacre.
Until recently, the American military has accused the villagers who bewailed the deaths of spreading Taliban propaganda. But a New York Times reporter in Azizabad saw dozens of freshly dug graves, along with cell phone photographs of at least 11 dead children. The raid has stoked deepening anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan; one villager said, "They bombard us, they hate us, they kill us. God will punish them."