Thursday, September 27, 2007

Echo Chamber

Jammie reports on a most curious Reuters dispatch from Afghanistan. The report is written by Reuters reporter Noor Mohammad Sherzai. That's not unusual.

That he would repeatedly cite himself as an eyewitness to events is.
By Noor Mohammad Sherzai

BATI KOT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - U.S. troops opened fire on civilians near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Thursday after a failed suicide car bomb attack on their convoy, a Reuters witness said.

There was no immediate comment on the reported incident either from U.S.-led coalition forces or from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The witness said three suicide bombers in one vehicle attacked a convoy of U.S. troops in the village of Bati Kot, 15 km (9 miles) east of Jalalabad, but none of the soldiers was hurt.

Two of the bombers were immediately killed in the blast. The third, dressed in a police uniform, survived only to be shot dead by troops, the witness said.

A fire brigade vehicle arriving at speed at the scene then suffered brake failure and rammed into the U.S. vehicles. Troops inside then opened fire, wounding a number of bystanders.

"I saw everything," said Reuters correspondent Noor Mohammad Sherzai. "I saw the suicide bomb attack ...

"I saw the fire brigade vehicle rushing to the area at top speed, somehow its brakes failed and hit one police vehicle and coalition vehicles, then the Americans started firing at the people and everyone lay flat on the ground and then fled the area."

Sherzai said a number of people had been wounded in the attack, but he did not know how many. "I ran away to save my own life."

Sherzai and other reporters at the scene said many shots were fired and Afghan police were among those fleeing the scene.

"I was running away as fast as I could, but some of the police overtook me," Sherzai said. The police, he said, "were very angry because the Americans were shooting and wanted to shoot back but others stopped them".
Sherzai says that there were other reporters at the scene. Let's examine that for a moment. Is there any other wire service carrying reports of an incident that appears to be similar to this one?

Well, the Malaysia Sun reports the incident but omits any details as provided by Sherzai.

If other journalists were shot at [ed: clarified - no mention that any journalists were actually shot in the incident], you'd think that they would report such events in their own dispatches. Instead, Sherzai is the only one to note this - though it is possible that other sources have yet to file their reports from the scene. Sherzai is the only wire service thus far to report the incident.

However, what is lost in all this is that the convoy did come under attack, and the forces then had to deal with an emergency vehicle that approached at a high rate of speed and crashed into their area. Given the rules of engagement and the unpredictability of the terrorists to use suicide bombers and/or individuals impersonating police, they opened fire to disperse the crowd.

Is Sherzai inventing details on the incident? How did he know that the brakes on the firetruck gave out? How could the military know either? Is he claravoyant? It was a rapidly developing situation, and the possibility for further Taliban attacks were quite high given what had just transpired.

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