Afghan and coalition forces were undertaking an operation in the area in pursuit of a Taliban commander named Mullah Siddiq. The attack on Azizabad was launched when intelligence reports indicated that Siddiq was in the village. A large crowd had assembled in Azizabad to commemorate the recent death of a local leader. When the airstrike occurred, an estimated 90 people – 60 children and 30 adults – were killed and many homes were destroyed, according to witnesses and a report made by the Afghanistan government. This has later been confirmed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), led by the norwegian diplomat Kai Eide. The attack was carried out by a US AC-130 ground attack aircraft.
Using the 105 Millimeter Howitzer from 10,000 feet to blow up a town while seeking one man, is a classic example of mismatched firepower. It is almost as stupid as using F-18 Strike fighters in Counterterrorism operations. Now that the Army is finally admitting they may have killed a lot of civilians, perhaps we can begin to recalibrate our fighting strategy in Afghanistan. If our soldiers believe they can call in airstrikes whenever they are under attack, with no regard to collateral damage, we will never win the hearts and minds of the Afghani people.