| GEO World|
| 44 Afghan cases of white phosphorus: U.S. military|
| Updated at: 0828 PST, Tuesday, May 12, 2009|
KABUL: The U.S. has accused Afghan militants of using white phosphorus as a weapon in ``reprehensible'' attacks on U.S. forces and in civilian areas.
The U.S. military declassified documents Monday showing at least 38 instances in which militants had used white phosphorus in attacks or where weapons had been found in eastern Afghanistan, where the U.S. primarily operates. The NATO-led force supplied information on six other instances in the country.
Monday's accusation came two months after an 8-year-old Afghan girl named Razia was wounded by white phosphorus in a battle between militants and NATO troops. Razia has received 10 skin grafts at the U.S. military hospital at Bagram. A U. S military spokeswoman said either side could have caused her injuries.
U.S and NATO troops frequently use white phosphorus to illuminate targets and create smoke screens. But human rights groups denounce its use as a weapon, or over populated areas, for the severe burns it causes. Also Monday, the Pentagon replaced the top U.S. and NATO general in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, as President Barack Obama tries to turn around a stalemated war. Replacing McKiernan will be Lt. Gen. Stanley Mc Chrystal, who has had a top administrative job at the Joint Chiefs of Staff for less than a year.
The U.S. said militants had used white phosphorus in improvised explosive attacks at least seven times since spring 2007, some in civilian areas. The documents showed 12 attacks where militants used white phosphorus in mortars or rockets, the majority of which came the last two years.