January 14, 2006

Photo impeaches article

Interesting AFP photo on the front page of the Globe site, and possibly elsewhere, at the moment.

The Globe caption reads, "A Pakistani tribesman stand by a unexploded ordinance (sic) at his house which was damaged in an alleged U.S. air strike in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border Saturday."

The "ordinance" in question is an unfuzed high-explosive artillery shell of indeterminate caliber, but definitely over 105mm, the Canadian standard light round. We know this because of the distinctive boat shape, the copper band around the bottom (known as the "driving band", which engages the rifling in the barrel of a howitzer, and the yellow stripe (international symbol for high-explosive). The round does not appear to have a fuze on the top, which generally comes to an aerodynamic point, but still has the ring bolt screwed in place of the fuze when rounds are in storage, and used to move the rounds around. So it's fair to say this round has not yet been fired out of any gun: in other words, it's not a dud. (It is possible, of course, that the round is inert, having either never been filled with explosive, or having had that explosive removed at some point previously.)

Upshot: the round in question was certainly not fired as part of the airstrike in question (it's artillery, not air-to-ground ordnance, and unfired at that). Which then begs the question, why *would* the individual in question have been storing artillery rounds near his house where they could be brought out for the photographers? Does the picture not tend to impeach the claim in the article, that "the victims were local villagers without terrorist links?" This particular fellow would certainly seem to be linked to something.

Posted by BruceR at 01:44 PM