On May 4 the
In contrast to the findings of the
With Granai and the surrounding area in western Afghanistan "pretty much controlled by the Taliban" the 37-year old photographer explains that it was "very risky" for him to photograph the bomb sites. "I was taken there by a couple of local people at a certain time when they thought the Taliban were less likely to be around," he says. "I was dressed as a local and my face was covered and I was wearing sunglasses. I was told to take the photos and keep my mouth shut. My translator did all the talking."
By combining the evidence he gathered on his trip to the village with an in-depth interview with a village elder, media reports and the
Most accounts of the bombing start with the battle between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government forces that took place "about three kilometres from the village" along the main road all afternoon, Smallman says. Pinned down by the Taliban, the Afghan government troops called for US assistance, and ground troops and close air support were dispatched.
Early news accounts and the
The bombing, carried out by a B-1B bomber, started at least an hour after the end of the fighting. "From the villagers’ point of view, they didn’t have a clue what was going on," says Smallman. "As far as they were concerned there was no reason for their village to be bombed." He notes there were two concentrations of air strikes in Granai, the first outside a mosque where a crowd had gathered after evening prayers. "You could see that trees were snapped in two by the bombs, so you can only imagine what happened to the people there," he says.
Understandably, this air strike produced "blind panic" among the villagers, with the elderly, women and children evacuated to a compound at the far end of the settlement. "A single 2,000lb bomb was then dropped in to the middle of them," says Smallman. "That was where there was the biggest loss of life. That is why the number of children killed was so high. A 2,000lb bomb vaporises literally everything at its epicentre."
During his visit to Granai, Smallman says he was saddened to see a mass grave in the cemetery with the remains of 54 people. "The reason they are buried together, which is very out of keeping with Muslim tradition, was because they were all in pieces and it was impossible to tell who was who."
Smallman is keen to highlight the absurdity of the
He also argues the
Smallman does not believe the
Smallman points out the US/NATO occupation forces in
So what prospects does Smallman see for
By documenting the attacks on Granai on May 4, Smallman has done a great service for those who wish to know the truth about the US/NATO occupation of
The question of safety is hugely important because, as Smallman explains, if independent journalists cannot gain access, then the
*This article recently appeared in the Morning Star
Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in
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