The issue of Sudanese air force bombing
of targets within the ongoing war in southern Sudan, fought
between the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA), has, in recent years, been focused upon by
several governments, non-governmental organisations and
the media. While there are legitimate concerns about any
bombing which may affect civilians, the issue itself has
become the subject of a considerable propaganda campaign
which has distorted perceptions of the conflict. The subject
has also become marred by hypocrisy and double standards.
Aerial bombardment has been a feature of many wars. It is
certainly an option that has been used with considerable
vigour by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation (NATO) within the 1990s. Indeed, it has become
their weapon of choice. That aerial bombing has been used
by the Sudanese armed forces in the course of the civil
war in their country is a matter of record. The Sudanese
government appears to have chosen to engage in bombing just
as the Americans and NATO forces chose to do so in the conflicts
in Yugoslavia, Kosovo and, most recently, Afghanistan. And
just as in those conflicts it would appear that civilians
have died or been injured in the course of aerial bombardments.
Lest there be any doubt about the position taken in this
publication, any civilian deaths or injury or the destruction
or partial destruction of any civilian infrastructure in
the course of any war is unacceptable. Any deliberate targeting
of civilians constitutes a grave abuse of human rights and
a war crime. What this note seeks to do is examine the claims
made about Sudanese bombing against the background of the
use of bombing in the other conflicts mentioned, and attempt,
as much as possible, to cut away the propaganda that has
obscured this issue.
At the onset of the war in Afghanistan, American Secretary
of Defence Donald H. Rumsfeld publicly stated: "No nation
in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties
than the United States has in this conflict". (1) He has
also stated: "I don't think there has ever been a bombing
campaign in the history of the world done with more care
and precision". (2) In the course of the several weeks of
American bombing within Afghanistan, however, there is every
indication that the United
States air force bombed several hospitals, old age peoples'
homes, mosques, residential areas within several towns,
villages, United Nations offices, Red Cross installations
and several civilian buses, killing several hundred civilians.
(3) Pro-American Northern Alliance officials have themselves
stated that American warplanes bombed several villages within
anti-Taliban areas over the weekend of 1-2 December, killing
perhaps as many as 300 civilians - as well as several senior
anti-Taliban commanders. (4) In early December, a 2,000
pound "smart" bomb killed 3 American special forces soldiers,
injured nineteen others and dozens of anti-Taliban soldiers.
The same bomb also narrowly missed killing Hamid Karzai,
the American-approved Afghan leader selected as chairman
for the interim administration in Afghanistan. (5) It was
alleged by the Taliban regime that as of 1 November some
1,500 civilians had died as a result of American bombing.
(6) In any instance American bombing has caused considerable
concern to human rights organisations. (7) In the course
of NATO's bombing campaign in Kosovo, NATO was accused
of killing hundreds of civilians in bombing attacks on residential
areas, villages, passenger trains, bridges, hospitals, civilian
buses and refugee convoys. (8) It should perhaps also be
borne in mind that during the Kosovo air war only 2 percent
of the unguided, "dumb" bombs used by the British air force
could be confirmed as having hit their targets. There was
only a 72 percent hit rate with its "smart" bombs. (9)
The Sudanese air force has similarly been accused of bombing
hospitals and civilians in southern Sudan. The United States,
NATO and the Sudanese authorities have all stated that any
civilian casualties in the course of their respective conflicts
have been accidental.
The simple fact is that mistakes are made in war. This point
was made by Defence Secretary Rumsfeld: "War is ugly. It
causes misery and suffering and death, and we see that every
day...needless to say...innocent bystanders can be caught
in crossfire. On the other hand, there are instances where
in fact there are unintended effects of this conflict, and
ordinance ends up where it should not. And we all know that,
and that's true of every conflict." (10) The Sudanese war
has been no
exception. If we are to accept NATO and the United States
at their word that civilians had not been deliberately targeted
in Yugoslavia, Kosovo or Afghanistan, and that any civilian
deaths or injuries in the course of bombing in those conflicts
were accidental, then there is also every reason to accept
Sudanese assurances that the same applies to any loss of
civilian life or injuries sustained by aerial bombardment
in southern Sudan. There are nonetheless those who have
insisted that civilians have been deliberately targeted
- claims often made as part of propaganda campaigns.
Unreliability of Sources
The first issue that must be examined is the reliability
of those who are alleging that civilians have been deliberately
targeted in the course of the respective bombing campaigns.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that in the
case of Afghanistan the Taliban regime was simply lying
about civilian casualties: "They have actively gone out
and lied about the civilian casualties and taken the press
to places where they would see things that they contended
were something other than what they really were." (11) Rumsfeld
has also said: "We have seen repeatedly things that are
not true put out by the Taliban. We have seen...the lies
they have been putting forward, carried across the globe
on television and in the press." (12) The Pentagon also
categorically denied that United States forces had used
chemical weapons in Afghanistan, and one has to ask why
Washington would have risked doing so for so little tactical
advantage. (13) British Prime Minister Tony Blair also went
on record to say: "Be cautious about all of the messages
that the Taliban put out from inside of Afghanistan." (14)
In the case of Sudan there have been equal concerns about
the credibility of those alleging Sudanese bombing of civilians.
These claims have come from similarly partisan sources.
The bulk of these claims have been made by the SPLA and
Norwegian People's Aid, a non-governmental organisation
closely identified with the SPLA, and other NGOs. And, like
the Taliban, they have also been disseminating these allegations
across the globe on television and in the press. Just as
American government urged caution about Taliban claims,
similar caution should be exercised with regard to SPLA
claims. Dr Peter Nyaba, an SPLA
national executive member, in his book 'The Politics of
Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider's View', has spoken
candidly of what he describes as the SPLA's "sub-culture
of lies, misinformation, cheap propaganda and exhibitionism":
"Much of what filtered out of the SPLM/A propaganda machinery,
notably Radio SPLA, was about 90% disinformation or things
concerned with the military combat, mainly news about the
fighting which were always efficaciously exaggerated." (15)
claims of deliberate civilian bombing on the part of the
government fall into the 90 percent of SPLA "disinformation"
as described above? Similarly, claims made by Norwegian
People's Aid are questionable. The Norwegian government
has investigated NPA's involvement in Sudan. Its report
stated that: "NPA's intervention is that of a solidarity
group. It has taken a clear side in the war." (16) It is
also evident that Norwegian People's Aid has served as propagandists
for the SPLA. The
Norwegian government report stated that: "The publicity,
which NPA has been able to supply in favour of the Movement,
has...been significant. NPA briefed journalists and guided
them in the field."
And, in an echo of Taliban claims about American use of
chemical weapons, Norwegian People's Aid claimed in July
1999 that Sudanese government forces had definitely used
chemical weapons in southern Sudan. (17) United Nations
tests conducted on test samples in the areas cited by Norwegian
People's Aid "indicated no evidence of exposure to chemicals".
(18) The British government conducted extensive tests on
similar samples and concluded that "there is no evidence
to substantiate the allegations that chemical weapons were
used in these incidents in the Sudan." (19) The results
of the tests run by the Finnish Institute for Verification
of Chemical Weapons also "...revealed no relevant chemicals."
(20) Just as with Taliban accusations of American use of
chemical weapons, one has to query what possible tactical
advantage the Sudanese would have been gained by any such
use of chemical weapons, especially given that Sudan has
recently emerged out of international isolation.
The Use of Civilians as Human Shields
The American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stated
that "let there be no doubt: Responsibility for every single
casualty in this war, be they innocent Afghans or innocent
Americans, rests at the feet of [the] Taliban and Al Qaeda.
[They] are the ones that are hiding in mosques and using
Afghan civilians as 'human shields' by placing their armor
and artillery in close proximity to civilians, schools,
hospitals and the like. When the Taliban issue accusations
of civilian casualties,
they indict themselves." (21) It is noteworthy that CNN
guidelines have also suggested that CNN journalists should
lay responsibility for civilian casualties at the Taliban's
door, not the American government's. (22)
The Sudanese government has claimed that Sudanese rebels
have used civilians as human shields. The SPLA's tactic
of using civilian installations, premises and areas for
military purposes has long been noted. In 1999, for example,
the unanimous resolution passed by the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights urged "in particular the Sudan People's
Liberation Army, to abstain from using civilian premises
for military purposes". (23) In 2000 the Special Rapporteur
on the Situation
of Human Rights in the Sudan condemned the SPLA's use of
"civilian installations for military purposes". (24) The
Sudanese government has repeatedly called upon the international
community to pressurise the SPLA to stop using civilians
for cover. In September 2000, for example, the Sudanese
Foreign Minister Dr Mustapha Osman Ismail asked the United
Nations to "bring pressure to bear on the rebel movement
so as to stop using civilian installations such as hospitals
and schools as human shields". (25) Gerhard Baum, the Special
Rapporteur, in November 2001, reiterated this concern: "SPLM/A
military installations are often amidst civilian infrastructures,
which affects the rate of civilian casualties during government
bombing incidents." (26) In October 2001, the Joint Parliamentary
Assembly of the European Union-African, Caribbean and Pacific
Group of States also placed on record that it was "deeply
concerned by the use of civilian premises for military purposes".
It is perhaps worth comparing comments made by the Sudanese
government and NATO on the subject of human shields. With
reference to NATO's air war in Yugoslavia, in 1999 the Voice
of America stated that NATO spokesman Jamie Shea "insists
the Yugoslav authorities have been using human shield...He
says President Slobodan Milosevic has no scruples about
using civilians this way. But he says NATO will never intentionally
target civilians...However, he insists the use of human
shields is not going to stop NATO from continuing its air
campaign." (28) In 2001, the Sudanese foreign minister stated
that air strikes by government forces "are not targeting
civilians but the government will not allow the rebel movement
to use civilians as human shields". He said that: "The use
of air power will continue against the rebels wherever they
are and we will take care to avoid civilians." (29)
There can be little doubt that the United States and NATO
forces have had access to the most sophisticated weaponry
available. It was reported, for example, that the United
States air force was using a variety of "smart" weapons,
including guided cruise missiles and bombs that rely on
an array of satellites to strike targets. These also included
"Joint Direct Attack Munitions" (JDAM), a technology which
upgrades 1,000 pound and 2,000 pound bombs into "accurate,
adverse weather 'smart' munitions" according to a US Air
Force fact sheet. (30) 'The Times' of London newspaper reported
that: "The relatively new JDAM weapon, linked to a satellite,
should provide the most accurate form of bombing and its
deployment...helped to underwrite political statements in
Washington that the airstrikes had been meticulously planned
to try to avoid civilian casualties." Despite this sophistication,
it was also 'The Times' newspaper that reported that it
was a JDAM bomb that hit a residential area of Kabul killing
several civilians. (31) In comparison, the Sudanese air
force is working with very old equipment. The bombs it uses
are pushed out of refitted ageing Soviet-era Antonov transport
Sophisticated Intelligence Sources
The United States government is served by thirteen separate
intelligence agencies. Their budget amounts to almost thirty
billion dollars a year:
85 percent of this budget is dedicated to military intelligence.
The primary mission of these intelligence agencies is "to
collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence
to assist the President and senior US Government policymakers
in making decisions relating to the national security".
(33) Amongst the many resources at the disposal of these
intelligence agencies are satellites that can see everything
imaginable and that can monitor every electronic communication
on the face of the
earth. In the Yugoslav, Kosovo and Afghanistan air campaigns,
these intelligence resources were augmented by the equally
impressive intelligence capabilities of NATO and NATO's
constituent members. In comparison, the intelligence resources
available to the Sudanese air force pale into insignificance.
In spite of the resources available to them both the United
States and NATO repeatedly hit civilian targets.
The Spectre of Propaganda
There is no doubt that any bombing of civilians or civilian
areas makes for powerful propaganda. All the conflicts touched
upon in this note have been no exception to this. The air
campaign in southern Sudan has been a particular target
for those seeking to demonise the Khartoum government. Interestingly,
it has been the American government that has been at the
forefront of this propaganda campaign, responding enthusiastically
and unquestioningly to claims of civilian bombing as
made by the SPLA or Norwegian People's Aid.
Comments made in October 2001 by the Administrator of the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Andrew Natsios are typical of this propaganda. In the course
of a key-note speech Natsios went out of his way to criticise
Sudanese air force bombings in the course of the war in
southern Sudan. He specifically referred to an incident
involving the World Food Programme in southern Sudan where
an area approved for food deliveries was bombed by the air
force. Natsios claimed that this "could hardly have been
an accident." (34) Yet, on 16 October, four days after Mr
Natsios delivered his lecture on the ethics of bombing,
and his articulation of somewhat arbitrary judgements about
Sudanese intentions, the American air force bombed very
clearly marked Red Cross warehouses in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The American air force returned on 26 October and bombed
the same clearly-marked Red Cross compound, buildings containing
food and blankets for 55,000 disabled and vulnerable people.
The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the
American bombings as a "violation of international humanitarian
law". (35) 'The Washington Post' also reported that the
American air force bombed less than 500 feet of a World
Food Programme facility in northern Kabul, wounding one
aid worker. (36) The missiles struck as trucks were being
loaded with humanitarian aid. Using Mr Natsios' own facile
logic, these incidents could hardly have been an accident,
or were they?
What conclusions can be drawn about propaganda and bombing?
While Defence Secretary Rumsfeld has repeatedly declared
how incredibly careful the American air force has been in
its aerial bombing within Afghanistan, "no nation in human
history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than
the United States has in this conflict", the simple fact
is that the American government has killed hundreds of innocent
civilians, in several cases whole villages, in its bombing,
and on 26
November 2001, United States warplanes bombed positions
at Konduz, killing dozens of pro-American Afghan allies
and injuring five American special forces soldiers. (37)
Given that American 'smart bombs' have managed to kill several
American servicemen, and injure dozens more, as well as
killing and injuring a lot more of its own Afghan allies,
one can perhaps give Washington the benefit of the doubt
with regard to their ultimate intentions. This despite the
most sophisticated weaponry
known to Man, missile systems guided by a thirty billion
dollar intelligence machine, and a desperate desire to avoid
such casualties. It might be pointed out that in comparison
the Sudanese air force are using antiquated aircraft and
comparatively inaccurate bomb delivery systems - certainly
when placed alongside the state-of-the-art laser-guided,
"smart" bombs used by the most sophisticated air force in
the world. And it is also clear that for its own political
and international reasons, the Sudanese government is just
as concerned as the United States is to avoid civilian casualties.
It would appear, however, from Washington's attitude towards
Sudan that only the American air force can bomb civilians
End the War and the Bombing Will End
It is perfectly understandable that the European Union and
others criticise instances within Sudan where bombing has
resulted in the death or injury of civilians. While these
criticisms are valid these critics should also be putting
even more pressure upon those parties who seek to continue
the war - bombing and bombing-related casualties being but
one of the many horrific consequences of the war itself.
These groups should also note the fact that it has been
the government of Sudan that has on numerous, well-documented
occasions offered unconditional comprehensive cease-fires,
and that it has been the rebels who have pointedly refused
them. It has also not escaped the attention of most of the
international community that on the occasions that the Sudanese
government, conscious of international concerns about bombing,
has declared a cessation of aerial bombardment within southern
Sudan, the rebels have responded with new and vigorous military
offensives: these offensives have themselves provoked a
continuation of bombing in counter-response. Not to note
these circumstances, and merely to focus exclusively upon
the government of Sudan - the approach taken by the United
States government - is deeply cynical where not simply disingenuous.
The United States position
is all the more questionable given that there is every reason
to believe that the United States has itself been prolonging
the Sudanese conflict by militarily and otherwise assisting
the SPLA rebel movement.
On 24 May 2001, as but one example, as a response to international
concerns, the Sudanese government stated that it would unilaterally
cease air strikes against military targets in southern Sudan.
(38) The Sudanese government also said that it called "upon
the other parties for an immediate response for boosting
the peace process in the country and appeals to the international
community to back up the call for a comprehensive ceasefire."
(39) Immediately following this declaration
and call for peace, the Bush Administration granted millions
of dollars worth of assistance to Sudanese rebels. (40)
Shortly after the announcement of this American encouragement,
the SPLA launched a concerted offensive in the Bahr al-Ghazal
region of southern Sudan. The offensive continued during
pivotal peace talks in Nairobi in early June, with the rebels
ignoring further calls for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
This American-encouraged SPLA offensive, aimed at capturing
several towns within Bahr al-Ghazal, resulted in massive
displacement of southern Sudanese civilians. The Sudanese
Catholic Information Office reported that most activities
within the region had been halted by the offensive: "locations
from Tonj northwards remain no go areas forcing both church
and humanitarian agencies to suspend their flights to the
region." (42) On 13 June the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rumbek,
Mazzolari, reported that just under 60,000 civilians had
been displaced by the offensive, and that these civilians
were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. (43)
Unsurprisingly, the Sudanese government reacted to the offensive
and mobilised forces to check SPLA attacks. (44) Ten days
into the offensive, in order "to defend itself in the face
of continued aggression" by the SPLA, Khartoum announced
the resumption of military air strikes within southern Sudan.
(45) It must be noted that having been responsible directly
or indirectly for encouraging the offensive in question
in Bahr al-Ghazal, the Bush Administration then expressed
outrage when Khartoum was forced to resume the use of air
strikes against rebel forces in the region. (46) The European
Union for its part was much more balanced, expressing its
concern at the renewed military activity by the SPLA "particularly
in Bahr al-Ghazal in Southern Sudan" and by Khartoum's resumption
of bombing in response to the offensive. (47)
It is worth noting that in his response to American criticism
with regard to aerial bombing, Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail states
that the US "openly sides with the rebel movement and offers
it political and military assistance". Regarding the accusations
of bombing civilian targets he has stated: "The American
administration repeats allegations by the rebel movement
without bothering to verify them". Bombing civilian targets
"is not part of the government policy", he adds, but accuses
the SPLA of using humanitarian relief sites as "shields
of protection". He states: "It is legitimate to target the
military bases of the rebel movement...[relief sites] have
become venues of planning for attacking and occupying more
[government held] towns". (48)
It is also worth noting that as part of a programme to incorporate
international humanitarian law into the training of Sudanese
armed forces, in 2000 40 Sudanese Air Force officers attended
a law of war course in Khartoum organised by the International
Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Sudan. After this
course, the Sudanese Air Force commander affirmed his commitment
to ensure that all air force personnel respect the law.
UNITED STATES BOMBING IN AFGHANISTAN
There are two things which must be noted about the United
States bombing in Afghanistan. Firstly, Washington emphasised
on several occasions that it would be taking every possible
care not to accidentally kill civilians. (50) Secondly,
they have also emphasised the use of high tech weaponry.
Nonetheless hundreds of civilians have died.
On 9 October 2001 American airplanes bombed the United Nations
de-mining office in Kabul, killing 4 UN workers. 'The Washington
Post' stated that: "Pentagon briefers have emphasized their
careful target selection. But "on occasion," Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld said..."there will be people hurt that one wished
had not been. I don't think there is any way in the world
to avoid that..." (51) It was reported that: "After the
death of four UN employees in Kabul, American target-pickers
pressure to avoid sites close to civilian homes or other
buildings. The United Nations Afghanistan coordinator for
humanitarian aid Mike Sackett stated that: "People need
to distinguish between combatants and those innocent civilians
who do not bear arms." (52) On 11 October the Taliban claimed
that American bombs had killed 100 people in a village nearJalalabad.
A Time.com article confirmed that American warplanes had
struck the village of Khrum, some 20 miles away from Jalalabad.
The 'Time' journalist calculated that around 100 civilians
were killed, and the whole village was "razed to the ground"
by mistake. (53) Fifteen people were said to have been killed
in an attack on a mosque in Jalalabad and ten civilians
east of Kabul; a hospital was bombed, killing four dead
and 13 civilians died in bombing in Kandahar; on 19 October
two buses carrying refugees and a hospital were hit by American
bombs. A hospital in Herat was also bombed killing patients
and on 30/31 October a Red Crescent hospital was also bombed
in Kandahar, killing 15 civilians. (54) US warplanes were
said to have bombed a Red Crescent hospital near Kandahar,
killing 15 people and severely injuring 25 others. (55)
The Pentagon also admitted that American warplanes had dropped
a 1,000 pound bomb on an old people's home near the western
Afghan city of Herat. (56)
The BBC reported that "US military warplanes 'inadvertently
dropped bombs' on Red Cross warehouses and on a nearby residential
area in the Afghan capital Kabul, the US Defence Department
said on Friday. US Navy fighters and B-52 bombers mistakenly
bombed six warehouses used by the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC), destroying vital stocks. This is
the second time ICRC buildings have been hit since US air
strikes began on 7 October. Two of the warehouses hit this
time were struck last time around". A Red Cross spokesman
stated that all Red Cross installations were clearly marked
and all parties in the conflict had been told their locations:
he added that the bombing took place in good visibility.
On 22 October US warplanes bombed the village of Chowkar-Karez.
The Taliban claimed that up to 100 civilians, almost the
entire population of the village, were killed. A Human Rights
Watch group and western journalists were able to visit the
area. They were able to confirm that villagers had died
in the attack. The Canadian 'Globe and Mail' newspaper reported
that the bombing of the village "has become the best documented
bombing of the four-week-old war. It has also become something
of a touchstone in the battle for credibility, and the Pentagon's
handling of the information that has emerged has led some
observers to wonder whether Washington really knows what
is going on in the field...'It begins to make you question
not only the credibility of the information that's coming
back to us as members of the public but also the kind of
information and intelligence that's going into the selection
of targets,' said Sidney Jones, the director of the Asian
division of Human Rights Watch...Witnessed talked to by
the Western reporters claimed there were no Taliban troops
in the village and that U.S. planes opened fire on people
as they attempted to flee the bombs." (58) The 'Globe and
Mail' reported that American Defence Secretary Rumsfeld
"professed ignorance" about the attack, stating "I cannot
deal with that particular village". On 1 November 2001,
Human Rights Watch issued a press release entitled "Pentagon
Should Explain Civilian Deaths in Chowkar". 'The Times'
published an account of the bombing of the village entitled:
"Death Falls From Sky on Village of Innocents", which documented
bombing and strafing attacks on the village, reporting that
thirty-five civilians were killed and others injured. Eighteen
members of one family, five of them children, were said
to have been machine-gunned by American gunships. (59)
On 22 October 2001, Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, denied that
there was evidence that American warplanes had bombed a
hospital in Herat: "We have absolutely no evidence at all
that would suggest that that allegation...is correct. I'm
sure it's not." It was alleged that over one hundred civilians
had died in the attack. (60) On 25 October the Pentagon
admitted that American warplanes may well have hit the hospital
in Herat with a 1,000 pound bomb. (61)
In an article entitled "Bombing Errors Prove Major Test
for US Resolve", 'The Independent' newspaper reported on
29 October that: "There have been four separate reports
of accidental US strikes on civilian targets in Afghanistan
in the past 48 hours, including the bombing of a village
in the area controlled by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance."
One of these attacks had resulted in the deaths of seven
children in their Kabul home. (62) Reuters reported on 26
October than seven civilians
had died in American overnight bombing in Kabul. (63) On
the same day Agence France Presse reported that American
cluster bombs had killed eight civilians in the west of
Afghanistan. The Taliban regime also claimed that 36 civilians
had died when a bus was hit by American missiles. The ICRC
stated that civilian deaths were mounting. (64) Reuters
reported that a US bombs had killed twelve civilians in
attacks in Kabul as well as other civilians in an attack
on a minibus. Reuters also claimed that several villagers
were killed or injured when American warplanes mistakenly
bombed the Northern-alliance held village of Ghanikhel.
(65) Four children were killed in an attack on a civilian
area of Kabul. (66)
On 21 November, 'The Daily Telegraph', a noted pro-American
British newspaper, published an article entitled "Village
of Death Casts Doubts Over US Intelligence". The article
reported that American warplanes had hit the same village
on two occasions, killing first seven and then four villagers,
mostly women and children. A village elder asked the reporter:
"Please tell the Americans they are bombing their allies...This
is the third time in two days that our village has been
bombed." (67) 'The Times' of London published a number of
articles with headlines such as: "Bombing Victim Tells How
US Raid Hit Village", an attack in which it was claimed
that 200 civilians had been killed (68); "He is burying
his wife bit by bit as he digs her out of the rubble", reporting
that a village had been hit by US bombs, killing a number
of civilians, and concluding that a "horrible mistake" had
been made. (69)
NATO BOMBING IN KOSOVO
Amnesty International stated that NATO forces had violated
international law and committed war crimes by targeting
and killing civilians during the Kosovo conflict. Amnesty
cited nine incidents during the bombing campaign against
Yugoslavia and alleged that NATO had failed to properly
select methods and targets to avoid civilian deaths. An
Amnesty International spokesman stated: "NATO set itself
up as upholding humanitarian standards, which it has not
done. [We] think they have to
answer for that." Among Amnesty's accusations were the following
accusations: NATO's bombing of the Serbian TV headquarters,
which killed 16 civilians; NATO's bombing of a bridge while
a passenger train was crossing, hitting the train and killing
civilians on board; NATO's attacks on convoys that included
displaced civilians; NATO's decision not to suspend bombing
of targets even after it was clear that civilians had been
hit; NATO's bombing from 15,000 feet which was not adequate
ensure that civilians were not killed. Serbia claimed that
600 civilians had been killed in the bombings. (70) NATO
spokesman Jamie Shea admitted mistakes were made: "We were
attacking purely military targets. Where accidents occurred
they occurred as a result of tragedies, failures of technology,
of human error that always accompany military operations."(71)
The ABC news channel also provided examples of NATO bombings
of civilians. These included the 12 April 2000 bombing of
a passenger train south of Belgrade which killed 30 people
(NATO apologised for an "uncanny accident"; a 14 April bombing
of a convoy of ethnic Albanian civilians which killed 64
people; a 27 April 2000 bombing of a housing estate which
killed 20 civilians; 1 May 2000 bombing of a bus which killed
39 people; a 3 May 2000 bombing of a bus, killing 20 civilians;
the 7 May bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in
which three Chinese journalists were killed; the 13 May
bombing of the Kosovo village of Korisa which resulted in
the deaths of 87 ethnic Albania civilians (NATO accused
the Serbians of using villagers as human shields); a 20
May 2000 bombing of a hospital in Belgrade which killed
several patients and injured others (the residences of the
Spanish and Swedish ambassadors were also hit); a 30 May
2000 air attack on a
crowded bridge in central Serbia, killing nine civilians
and injuring 17 others. There were many other mistakes.
On 20 April 2000 the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner,
Mrs Mary Robinson, criticised NATO for killing "large numbers
of civilians". On 28 April 2000, NATO airplanes bombed Bulgaria
by mistake for the third time. On 1 June NATO aircraft bombed
Albania by mistake.
1 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The
Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.
2 "Pakistanis Tone Down Call to Halt Airstrikes: Rumsfeld
is Cautioned About Muslim Reaction", 'The Washington Post',
3 See, for example, "Bombings That Hit Wrong Targets in
Afghanistan", News Article by Reuters, 23 October 2001.
4 "US Bombs Hit the Wrong Target for Second Time in Two
Days", 'The Independent' (London), 3 December 2001.
5 "New Afghan Leader Escapes 'Friendly Fire", 'The Times'
(London), 6 December 2001.
6 "1,500 Killed in US Raids", 'The Times' (London), 1 November
7 See, for example, "Afghanistan: U.S. Bombs Kill Twenty-three
Civilians. Rights Group Urges Immediate Investigation, Human
Rights Watch, 26 October 2001 and "Afghanistan: New Civilian
Deaths Due to U.S. Bombing", Human Rights Watch, 30 October
8 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes
in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC News.com, 7 June
9 "Kosovo 'Dumb Bombs' Missing in Action", 'The Times' (London),
15 August 2000.
10 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The
Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.
11 "US Military Strikes Assailed - Civilians Killed By Cluster
Bombs", News Article by Agence France Presse, 26 October
12 "Lies, Damned Lies and War Propaganda", 'The Sydney Morning
Herald', 29 October 2001.
13 "Rumsfeld Dismisses Claim of Bomb Raid on Hospital",
'The Times' (London), 23 October 2001.
14 "Taliban Takes Hits on Several Fronts", 'The Dallas Morning
News', 19 October 2001.
15 Peter Nyaba, 'The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan:
An Insider's View', Fountain Publishers, Kampala, 1997,
16 'Evaluation of Norwegian Humanitarian Assistance to the
Sudan', A report submitted to the Royal Norwegian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, COWI, Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Oslo, November 1997, p.27.
17 See, for example, 'Confirmed Chemical Bombing in Southern
Sudan', Norwegian People's Aid, 2 August 1999.
18 United Nations communication to the Sudanese Ministry
of External Relations, UN Resident Coordinator in Sudan,
17 October 1999.
19 Letter to Baroness Cox Regarding the testing of Sudan
samples at the Chemical and Biological Defence Agency, from
Minister of State for Defence Procurement, (Reference D/MIN(DP)/ECS/13/3/3),
London, 5 June 2000.
20 See, "Analysis of Samples from Sudan", Helsinki 20 June
2000 as published in 'The ASA Newsletter', Issue No. 79,
2000, Applied Science and Analysis Inc, available at
21 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The
Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.
22 See, for example, "Action Alert: CNN Says Focus on Civilian
Casualties Would Be "Perverse", Fairness and Accuracy in
Reporting, Washington-DC, 1 November 2001.
23 "Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan", Commission
on Human Rights Resolution 1999/15, Geneva, 23 April 1999,
24 "Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan", Commission
on Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly, Fifty-Sixth
Session, New York, 19 April 2000.
25 "Sudan: UN Asked to Pressure Rebels", U.N. Integrated
Regional Information Network, Nairobi, 20 September 2000.
26 Gerhard Baum, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of
Human Rights in the Sudan. Statement made to the Third Committee,
United Nations General Assembly, New York, 8 November 2001,
27 "Resolution of the Situation in the Sudan", ACP-EU Joint
Parliamentary Assembly, Brussels, 29 October - 1 November
28 "NATO/Kosovo", News Article by Voice of America, 16 May
29 "Sudan Vows Not to be Deterred by 'Human Shields' in
War on Rebels", News Article by Agence France Presse, 3
30 "U.S. Using High-Tech Weaponry", 'The Dallas Morning
Post', 9 October 2001.
31 "Smart Bombs can be Stupid", 'The Times'(London), 25
32 See, for example, "Despite a Ban on Air Raids, Civilians
Keep a Watchful Eye", 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', 3 May
33 'Frequently Asked Questions', Central Intelligence Agency
Official Website at
34 Natsios, "A Reinvigorated Commitment to the People of
Sudan", U.S. Holocaust Museum, Washington-DC, 12 October
35 "Red Cross Warehouse Hit Again", 'The Daily Telegraph'
(London), 27 October 2001.
36 "Bombs, Lawlessness Threaten Aid Efforts", 'The Washington
Post', 17 October 2001.
37 "The Fort of Hell", 'The Sunday Times'
(London), 2 December 2001.
38 See, for example, "Sudan Declares End to Air Raids on
Rebels in South", News Article by Reuters on 24 May 2001,
and "Sudanese Government Declares Halt to Air Raids in South",
News Article by Agence FrancePresse on 24 May 2001.
39 "Sudanese Government Declares Halt to Air Raids", News
Article by Agence France Presse on 24 May 2001.
40 "Sudanese Rebels to Receive Dlrs 3 Million in Assistance',
News Article by Associated Press on 25 May 2001.
41 See, for example, "Khartoum Urges Rebels to 'Stop Fighting
and Talk"', News Article by Agence France Presse on 5 June
2001 and "Sudan's Government Calls on International Community
to Push for Cease-Fire", News Article by Associated Press
on 5 June 2001.
42 "Civilians Flee Town Under Siege", News Article by Sudanese
Catholic Information Office, Nairobi, 8 June 2001.
43 "Fighting in Sudan's Bahr el Ghazal Leaves 57,000 Displaced:
Bishop", News Article by Agence France Presse on 13 June
44 See, for example, "Sudan's Beshir Steps Up Mobilisation
Against Rebel Offensive", News Article by Agence France
Presse on 7 June 2001, and "Sudan Mobilizes as Rebel Forces
Advance", News Article by Middle East Newsline, Cairo on
8 June 2001.
45 See "URGENT Khartoum Announces Resumption of Air Strikes
in South", News Article by Agence France Presse on 11 June
46 'U.S. Concerned at Reports of Air Raids in Sudan', News
Article by Reuters on 8 June 2001.
47 "Declaration by the Presidency on
behalf of the European Union on Sudanese Peace Process",
Brussels, 12 June 2001.
48 "Khartoum Accuses Washington of Fanning War in Sudan",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 27 August 2000.
49 "First Law of War Course for Sudanese Air Force Officers",
International Committee of the Red Cross News No. 13, 5
50 See, for example, "Smart Bombs can be Stupid", 'The Times'
(London), 25 October 2001.
51 "Bombs, Lawlessness Threaten Aid Efforts", 'The Washington
Post', 17 October 2001.
52 "Bombings That Hit Wrong Targets in Afghanistan", News
Article by Reuters, 23 October 2001.
53 "Another Day's Bombing in Jalalabad",
Time.com, 19 October 2001.
54 Special Reports, "Attack on Afghanistan: US Response",
'The Guardian' Interactive Guide at http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/subsection/0,1361,567573,00.html
55 "Afghan Hospital Strike 'Kills 15'", News Article by
Associated Press, 31 October 2001.
56 See "Pentagon Admits US Jets Bombed Old People's Home
in Afghan City", 'The Independent', London, 24 October 2001.
57 "US Admits Second Bombing Error", News Article by BBC,
27 October 2001.
58 "Bombing of Farming Village Undermines U.S. Credibility",
'The Globe and Mail'(Toronto), 3 November 2001.
59 "Death Falls From Sky on Village
of Innocents", 'The Times' (London), 2 November 2001.
60 "Rumsfeld Dismisses Claim of Bomb
Raid on Hospital", 'The Times' (London), 23 October 2001.
61 "US Admits Dropping 1,000lb Bomb
on Old People's Home", 'The Daily Telegraph' (London), 25
62 "Bombing Errors Prove Major Test for US Resolve", 'The
Independent' (London), 29 October 2001.
63 "Kabul Bombed Overnight - US Bombs Kill Seven More Civilians",
News Article by Reuters, 26 October 2001.
64 "US Military Strikes Assailed - Civilians Killed By Cluster
Bombs", News Article by Agence France Presse,
26 October 2001.
65 "US Bombers Kill Kabul Family and Busloads of Refugees",
News Article by Reuters, 29 October 2001.
66 "US Missed Most Kabul Targets, Aid
Workers Say", 'The Times' (London), 20 October 2001.
67 "Village of Death Casts Doubts Over US Intelligence",
'The Daily Telegraph' (London), 21 November.
68 "Bombing Victim Tells How US Raid
Hit Village", 'The Times' (London), 13 October 2001
69 "He is burying his wife bit by bit as he digs her out
of the rubble", 'The Times' (London), 15 October 2001.
70 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes
in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC News, 7 June 2000.
71 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes
in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC News, 7 June 2000.
72 "NATO's Deadly Mistakes", "Coverage of Kosovo", ABC News.com,
17 January 2001 .