The events provided another example of how fragile relations between Afghans and Americans have become, and how ready Afghans angered over civilian casualties are to blame American forces in virtually any circumstance.
While the first reaction to the explosion was shock, within a few hours an angry crowd gathered, chanting anti-American slogans. The crowd blocked the road to the border for several hours to protest the episode.
The protests quickly spiraled into accusations that the Americans had set off the explosion, though nine American service members were among the wounded, which also included several schoolboys and at least three Afghan police officers.
The events occurred in Mazzina, a small village on the road between Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar Province, and Torkham, the border crossing to Pakistan.
“These people are here to help and protect us, or they are here to kill us — we don’t want them anymore,” said Salim, 33, who goes by one name and was an uncle of one of the boys who died.
Some in the crowd, who said they had witnessed the explosion, were quick to accuse the Americans outright. “I saw them throwing chocolate to the students and then suddenly they threw a grenade, followed by shooting,” said Naimtullah, 38, who like many Afghans goes by one name. [continued…]
The top U.N. envoy to Afghanistan on Wednesday delivered a gloomy assessment of the U.S.-led effort to restore stability in the country and warned “we will fail” if the strategy there relies too heavily on military force.
In a presentation to the U.N. Security Council, envoy Kai Eide called on the United States and its Western allies to invest heavily in Afghanistan’s economy and its civilian institutions. He said the Obama administration’s “military surge must not be allowed to undermine” those goals. [continued…]