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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 06:51 GMT
Shooting threatens Kabul stability
The incident has raised tension on the streets of Kabul
By BBC News Online's Marcus George in Kabul

An investigation is continuing in Kabul into the death of a man who was shot dead by International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) troops.

Amaun Ishaq was killed when British troops opened fire on a car in which he was driving his pregnant sister-in-law, Faria, to hospital.

Why should we want to start shooting? When they say they were fired on, they are lying

Mohamadin, uncle of Amaun Ishaq
Four other people, including Ms Ishaq and Mr Ishaq's brother, Mohammed, were wounded.

The soldiers, who were manning an observation post, said they had returned fire after coming under attack.

Whatever the outcome of the investigation the incident will be seen as a dent in the prestige of the Isaf contingent.

Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai had been requesting more Isaf troops to be placed around the country.

Now the peacekeepers will be unlikely to give pledges of additional help while this cloud hangs over the operation.

The death of the government's transport minister last week has also demonstrated that Mr Karzai's hard task of rebuilding the country is just beginning.

Battle for stability

The Special Investigations Bureau has been combing the site of the latest shooting for evidence of the incident which happened near the old Russian bakery on Friday evening.

Mohammed Ishaq
Mohammed Ishaq was injured in the shooting

The investigation is unlikely to be completed before the end of the month.

Six soldiers have temporarily been relieved of their duties and the observation post, situated at the top of the bakery, has been dismantled.

"They shot at us for about three minutes," said Mohammadin, Amaun Ishaq's uncle.

"Bullets were flying all over the place from the Silo ... I was very scared that people would be killed and unfortunately that happened.

"Why should we want to start shooting? When they say they were fired on, they are lying," he added.

'No choice'

It was 0200 when the family decided they needed medical assistance for Mr Ishaq's wife.

"We knew there was a curfew, but we had no choice," Mohammed Ishaq told me.

scene of the shooting
The shooting took place near the old Russian backery

As they climbed into the car the group was targeted by incoming fire.

Minutes later Amaun lay motionless. A bullet had torn through his skull and killed him instantly.

Mohammed Ishaq said two army doctors arrived at the house, attended to the injured and assisted in the birth of his son.

These people have come here to keep the peace. But they have ended up killing

Mohammed Ishaq
At first light a contingent of 30 soldiers arrived, he said, to secure the area. Investigators removed the car the following day and collected spent rounds at the scene.

Mohammed pointed out where the car was when the firing began. He showed me where they impacted against the hard grey rock.

His eyes were cold and motionless as if he was still unable to comprehend what had happened.

'A crime against Islam'

Two days before he had been awaiting fatherhood. In an instant his family was rocked by tragedy.

Fatherhood had been granted but at a heavy price. His brother is dead and his wife still lies in a hospital bed with a bullet in her leg.

Now he feels nothing but anger.

"These people have come here to keep the peace. But they have ended up killing. They are worse than terrorists. This was a crime against humanity and against Islam."

See also:

15 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Straw caution on more troops
31 Jan 02 | UK Politics
UK cool on extra Afghan troops
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair urges support for Afghanistan
16 Feb 02 | South Asia
Farewell to murdered Afghan minister
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