Sunday, May 15, 2011

'White phosphorous used in Afghan war'

Leaked documents have revealed that US-led forces in Afghanistan have made extensive use of white phosphorus bombs in densely-populated areas.

A review of the Afghan military documents revealed more than 1,100 instances of US-led forces -- including Danish troops -- having used white phosphorus (WP) grenades, rockets and bombs, the Danish daily Information reported. According to one document, US-led forces fired 20 to 50 WP rockets at a single target. Many of the WP munitions have often been used in residential areas. White phosphorus is a substance that burns upon coming into contact with human flesh; it sticks to the skin and continues to burn as long as there is oxygen. The result is severe and possibly lethal chemical burns.
According to international conventions the use of white phosphorus is to be restricted exclusively to areas that are not densely populated. However, the leaked documents from Afghanistan indicate that the WP has been used as an attack weapon in populated areas, including zones where the Danish troops are deployed. The widespread use of white phosphorus by US-led forces has prompted concern among rights groups.

“White phosphorus must not be used against civilians or in areas inhabited by civilians,” said Peter Vedel Kessing, a senior researcher at Denmark's Department of Human Rights. Amnesty International has also called for an investigation into the use of the substance in Afghanistan.

“If talking about inhuman weapons makes any sense at all, white phosphorus certainly must belong to this category, since it leaves its victims in unimaginable pain,” Amnesty International spokesperson in Denmark Ole Hoff Lund said. “Therefore, it is important that the Danish military launches an inquiry into how and why” US-led forces have been using white phosphorus munitions, Lund added.

Military lawyer Rolf Verge at the Danish Army's Operational High Command (HOK) has confirmed that the Danish forces have been using white phosphorus, but he stressed that the WP is used only in a lawful manner.

HJL/HGH/MMN Article source here

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