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U.S. Marines shoot at stick wielding protester

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In the previous blog post, we saw that on January 12, Afghan and (allegedly) US troops shot and killed eight protesters in Garmsir, a town on the edge of the desert in Helmand province. The following day, January 13, saw another protest which met with troops' bullets, but this time the Americans' involvement is explicit:

NATO, Afghan troops fire on Afghan crowd wounding five

KABUL, Jan 15 (Reuters) - At least five Afghan civilians were wounded when a combined force of Afghan troops and U.S. Marines opened fire on a crowd at the gate to a military base in Helmand, Afghanistan's most volatile province, NATO said on Friday.

The incident, which took place on Wednesday but was not reported until Friday, was the second demonstration to turn violent in two days in Helmand's Garmsir district, suggesting mounting civil unrest in a part of the country where U.S. Marines under NATO command made major advances last year.

"ANA and ISAF forces warned a crowd of between 200 and 400 assembled civilians to keep its distance from the outpost," a NATO statement said...
"A number of civilians in the crowd disregarded instructions, resulting in forces firing warning shots. Deliberative escalation of force procedures were followed, but one individual continued to ignore instructions, striking members of the combined force with a stick," the statement said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale said both Afghan troops and the U.S. Marines subsequently fired at the crowd...
The incident came a day after another violent demonstration in Garmsir...
Dawood Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand governor Gulab Mangal, said Wednesday's demonstration had taken place outside a base where U.S. and Afghan officials were discussing the unrest from the day before.

He said Taliban infiltrators in Wednesday's crowd fired at the U.S. and Afghan troops, prompting the Afghans to return fire. The NATO statement made no mention of shots fired from the crowd... (link)

Note that the governor's office claimed the troops had been fired on, while NATO said no such thing. This is a strange discrepancy considering the two-day delay in relasing any news about this. And it bears asking, considering this incident was covered up for two days, have there been similar incidents which have never been reported?

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