Canadian troops destroyed villages to save them?

A New York Times report (Carlotta Gall, “In Afghan South, U.S. Faces Frustrated Residents,” 16 October 2010) on the frustration and disillusion expressed by Afghan civilians in the region around Kandahar cites Canadian actions as one of the sources of complaints:

Three years ago, Canadian troops built a temporary post near Lora. When they immediately came under fire from insurgents, they bulldozed much of the hamlet, flattening houses, water pumps and surrounding orchards, the villagers and local elders say.

“There were 10 families who had houses there that were totally destroyed, and mulberry trees were taken out by their roots,” Mr. Hamid said in a recent interview in Kandahar city. “They destroyed all these things, and we are unable to replace them.” …

“Not only Lora was destroyed; in Zhare District two villages were completely destroyed,” said Hajji Agha Lalai, the provincial councilor from the area. “Some got compensation and others did not,” he said, blaming Afghan officials who he said divided up the money.

The Canadian Forces have declined to confirm or deny the residents’ account:

Lt. Kelly Rozenberg-Payne, a public affairs officer with the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command in Ottawa, wrote by e-mail that she had no information to support the allegations that Lora was bulldozed.

But she acknowledged the existence of an “austere platoon house” in the area, which Canadian forces upgraded to a substation for the Afghan police in the spring of 2008. It was dismantled in the fall of 2008 “because of changing operational priorities,” she wrote.

U.S. Army photo

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