A year after journalist's death, U.S. urged to reassess tactics
By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator
One year ago, on July 28, 2011, Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, 25, was killed by American troops during a brutal close-quarters battle with a Taliban suicide squad backed by gunmen. Khpalwak was one of 22 people killed in the hours-long siege on government buildings that included the governor's office and police headquarters in Tarin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province. A reporter for the BBC, Pajhwok Afghan News, and several other organizations, Khpalwak died with 11 bullet wounds in his body. He was shot in a government-run newsroom while waving his press card and declaring in English that he was a journalist. It's fair to ask, one year after Khpalwak died, if any lessons have been learned. The odds that a journalist could be killed by U.S. forces' fire seem, unfortunately, to be as high as ever.
Concern for civilian deaths was addressed by U.S. Marine Corps Cmdr. John Allen in the final U.S. military report on Khpalwak's death. Allen said that while the death was understandable given the chaotic conditions, U.S. troops should be reminded of the combat rules under which they operate.