Night raids, one of the most divisive and resented tactics used by Coalition forces in Afghanistan, have skyrocketed in use, increasing five-fold between February 2009 and December 2010, according to a new report from the Open Society Foundations and The Liaison Office (an independent Afghan NGO).
This is the second report published by OSI and the Liaison Office. The first, published in February 2010, can be found here.
The new report, The Cost of Kill/Capture: Impact of the Night Raid Surge on Afghan Civilians, notes that military forces conducted an average of 19 raids a night in the three months between December 2010 and February 2011. The trend is continuing according to the report's authors and may even be increasing, with reports of up to 40 raids a night on occasion. It adds that the raids have created a massive backlash and that ISAF commanders have refused to alter their policy, although there have been some changes to procedures that have reduced property damage and led to more respectful treatment of women.
However, the report notes: "although civilian casualties have been reduced significantly, they still occur, many as a result of mistaken interpretations of 'hostile intent'."
The report recommends that ISAF and US forces should cease raids that do not discriminate between combatants and civilians, ensure such raids are not used as substitutes for criminal proceedings or other methods of intelligence gathering and that commanders should consider alternative methods of detention wherever possible.