2007 bombing of Afghan village violated international law says court

The Hague district court has found the Dutch state liable for the 2007 bombing of residential buildings in an Afghan village that left 50 to 80 civilians dead, saying the attack violated international law.

A group of Afghan civilians, survivors and relatives of those killed, brought a civil suit against the government. They argued the attack on Chora was unlawful because the military had not established the buildings were being used by Taliban fighters at the time.

The Dutch were part of a coalition of forces fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Earlier in the day, Taliban fighters had used the buildings to fire at Dutch military personnel.

The aerial bombardment of the compound, however, took place 12 hours later, in the middle of the night. By then, according to the victims’ lawyers, the fighters had moved on and families had returned to their homes.

‘These people were sleeping and were surprised by bombs in the night and 20 family members died,’ Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer for the relatives, told the NOS.

The ministry of defence denied any wrongdoing and said its soldiers had reason to believe the complex was a legitimate military target. A spokesperson said they will study the ruling. The ministry has three months to appeal.

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