15 September 2009

Afghan special op leaves commando,interpreter dead

At least 4 people including a British soldier and an Afghan journalist were killed during an operation to extract a New York Times reporter who was kidnapped while covering last week's controversial NATO airstrike on an oil-container in the Kunduz province. Stephen Farrell was freed on wednesday in the pre-dawn military raid in Afghanistan. "Several people" were killed in the operation that also resulted in the death of Farrell's interpreter, a British commando and a civilian.

"There were bullets all around us. I could hear British and Afghan voices," Farrell, a 46-year-old dual Irish-British citizen, told the paper. Farrell and Munadi ran outside during the firefight. At the end of a wall, Munadi went forward, shouting: "Journalist! Journalist!" but dropped in a hail of bullets, Farrell said. He didn't know whether the shots came from allied or militant fire. Munadi's death (along with the commando) ruins any jubilance arising from the incident. Sultan was 34 and the father of two children, had worked regularly with The Times and other news organizations and was in the process of studying for a master’s degree in public policy in Germany. Back briefly in Afghanistan, he had returned to his role as a translator.

The success of any special operation depends not just on the achievement of the objective, but also to ensure minimal casualties on the SOF side. I'm not disparaging the audacious commandos.

Details are still somewhat scanty, especially about enemy casualties. When the fighting first broke out, several Taliban ran out of the room to confront the special forces. It's definitely safe to say a large no. of them must have been killed. On a slightly "casual" note, Farrell, who holds dual Irish-British citizenship looks (and dresses more Afghan) while Sultan Munadi looks more Western. As an NY Times reporter, their ordeal is described extensively and with more detail by NY Times, and page 2 especially offers extensive detail on how they were captured.

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