Dutch soldiers killed civilians in Afghanistan, veteran says
Dutch soldiers may have killed civilians while firing on two houses in the Afghan province of Uruzgan in 2007, former soldier Servie Holzken told newspaper Trouw. The Ministry of Defense called his story "very serious".
According to Holzken, he and his colleagues went on patrols in the Chora Valley in mid-2007 to track down improvised roadside bombs. One night, his unit was driving past inhabited areas when his commander intercepted walkie-talkie traffic believed to be from the Taliban. The unit was ordered to shoot at two houses with heavy a machine gun to see if there was a reaction, Holzken said.
According to Holzken, the commander then heard the alleged Taliban fighters talking about the machine gun fire through walkie talkies and people came running from the second house. Holzken was ordered to shoot them, he said.
"I am convinced that we shot and killed civilians," Holzken said to the newspaper. There was no gunfire from the other side and he saw no weapons, he said. "I think we went through five or six boxes of ammunition," he said. "We fired until we saw no more movement."
He called the shooting "unjustifiable", according to Trouw. "We only had walkie-talkie traffic."
One of Holzken's comrades confirmed a large part of this account to Trouw, but asked not to be mentioned by name.
The Ministry of Defense told the newspaper that it is shocked by the account, but added that Holzken returned from Afghanistan traumatized and may have imagined the incident in whole or in part.
A spokesperson stressed that the Ministry checked its archives and found no incident resembling what Holzken describes. "Maybe it happened, but we can't find it."
The Ministry asked the Public Prosecution Service to look into Holzken's account.