Lone Tipster Triggered Afghan Air Strike Decision

Single-source action appears to violate Gen. Stanley McChrystal's orders
By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2009 5:36 AM CDT
Rahmatullah, 19, a victim of the NATO air strike Friday, tries to sit up on his bed in a hospital in Kabul yesterday.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – A single eye witness was responsible for much of the intelligence guiding the decision to bomb two fuel tankers surrounded by more than 100 Afghanis, including civilians, reports the Washington Post. Dropping the 500-pound bombs based on the word of a single source appears to violate recent directives aimed at limiting civilian casualties in Afghanistan, according to observers.

Thermal imaging from airborne surveillance confirmed the basic information, but not whether people around the trucks were insurgents or civilians. At least two dozen civilians were incinerated when the bombs were dropped—others were wounded. Some had come for free fuel or just to gawk at the trucks stuck in the mud. Others had been forced by Taliban soldiers to help free the trucks.