News: Coalition delivers 'solatia' payments to Nangarhar families
Combined Joint Task Force-82
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan – Senior coalition leaders delivered "solatia" payments, May 8, at the Nangarhar governor's compound in Jalalabad, to Afghans injured by a suicide bombing and small arms fire in early March.
The payments came in the aftermath of a confrontation between a militant attacker and coalition forces, March 4, on Highway 1 in the Markoh Bazaar area of Nangarhar province. A suicide vehicle bombing initiated an attack that left 19 civilians dead, 37 injured and others with property damage.
In attendance were Army Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the Combined Joint Task Force-82 deputy commanding general for operations; Army Col. John Nicholson, the commander of Task Force Spartan; Air Force Lt. Col. Gordon Phillips, the commander of the Jalalabad Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai, the Nangarhar governor and event host, and other regional political leaders for the event.
The government and coalition leaders addressed area tribal elders and religious leaders before the distribution of "solatia" payments, which express condolences and respect for a family.
Votel offered condolences on behalf of the U.S. military and noted that a thorough investigation into the incident continues.
"We are deeply saddened and angry over this incident," Votel said. "On behalf of my country and our Soldiers, we humbly ask for your forgiveness and continued cooperation. As you know we are conducting an investigation. We ask for your continued cooperation during this investigation."
Nicholson emphasized coalition gratitude for the hospitality of the people his Soldiers have lived and worked alongside for more than 15 months and their respect for Afghan culture.
"We came here to help the Afghan people and the Afghan government, not to hurt you," Nicholson said. "We greatly appreciate the hospitality you have shown us by allowing us to stand beside you and fight our common enemy together."
"Because of our honor and our respect for you and your traditions, we come today to offer support to the families of those killed or injured during these events," the Spartan commander added.
Phillips, who played a key role in organizing the event, personally delivered the solatia payments and expressed his solidarity with and concern for the people.
"Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones," the PRT commander said. "You are in my thoughts and prayers and those of my team. We come here as your guests – invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children."
Sherzai's comments focused on finding solutions and preventing the enemy from using the incident as a weapon against the Afghan government and the people.
"The coalition forces help us by providing security, training for our forces as well as the building of schools and roads which provides a better future for Afghan people," the governor said. "I ask all coalition forces to ensure the Soldiers are well trained and disciplined, and they coordinate with (Afghan civil and military authorities) to ensure this does not happen again.
"The enemy will use these unfortunate events to further their cause," he added. "The tribes of Nangarhar support the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Just the other day a man came to a shura and told the tribal elders we should start a jihad against coalition forces. The tribal elders told the man to leave. They told him the Taliban gives us nothing but violence and death. The coalition and the IRoA support us with roads, education and a brighter future."
Sherzai, Votel and Nicholson greeted the families and offered condolences as Phillips delivered the Solatia payments to individuals and heads of families that suffered injuries or property damage during the incident.