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U.S. Jets Bomb Afghan Village; 12 Dead

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    U.S. warplanes bombed an Afghan village in the heat of a battle between U.S.-led forces and insurgents, killing more than a dozen people and striking the camp
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2004
      U.S. warplanes bombed an Afghan village in the heat of a battle
      between U.S.-led forces and insurgents, killing more than a dozen
      people and striking the camp of a Danish relief group.


      U.S. Jets Fire on Afghan Village; 12 Dead :
      By STEPHEN GRAHAM
      Associated Press Writer
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4464380,00.html
      Tuesday August 31, 2004 8:16 PM


      KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Afghan village in
      the heat of a battle between U.S.-led forces and insurgents, killing
      more than a dozen people and striking the camp of a Danish relief group.

      The clash late Monday in Kunar province highlights the risks relief
      workers face in lawless and impoverished regions of southern and
      eastern Afghanistan, where coalition forces often clash with Taliban
      rebels.

      The U.S. military said the airstrikes countered an attack by militants
      on American and Afghan soldiers and that it had killed more than a
      dozen rebels.

      But Afghan officials said the dead included five unarmed civilians.

      Kunar Gov. Sayed Fazel Akbar said the incident began when assailants
      fired at Afghan and U.S. military camps near Mano Gai, 105 miles east
      of the capital, Kabul.

      ``Then the American planes came and bombarded Weradesh village,''
      where the fire had originated, Akbar said. ``Several houses were
      destroyed.''

      Akbar said five civilians were killed in the American bombardment -
      two men, two children and a woman - but blamed the militants for the
      bloodshed.

      ``If the enemy comes into the villages and opens fire on the
      government and coalition, we are obliged to respond,'' he said.

      The Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees, or DACAAR, which had
      a team working in Weradesh, said several bombs were dropped and that
      its staff believed eight villagers were killed.

      The group's 14 staff members fled their darkened camp just before it
      was caught by one bomb, said Gorm Pedersen, DACAAR's director in
      Kabul. One worker was slightly injured and much of the group's
      equipment was damaged.

      ``Our people decided to take shelter,'' Pedersen said. ``It was while
      they were running from the camp to the village that they were hit.''

      U.S. soldiers visited the village early Tuesday and told DACAAR staff
      to draw up an assessment of the damage, Pedersen said.

      American spokesman Sgt. Maj. Keith Butler said warplanes had fired
      various ordnance on targets, including one laser-guided bomb that hit
      a vehicle used by militants.

      He said the military had no information about the presence of the aid
      group in the area.

      The military insisted no civilians had been hit by American forces,
      whereas insurgents ``fired indiscriminately at villagers'' during the
      four-hour battle.

      ``All the coalition fire was precision fire,'' Butler said.

      Akbar, the provincial governor, said about 12 militants were killed.

      The U.S. military said seven children, one coalition soldier and two
      Afghan soldiers were flown to the main American base at Bagram, north
      of Kabul. Four required surgery and one child later died, Butler said.

      The spokesman said troops chased one militant into a house where he
      blew himself up with a hand-grenade to avoid capture, slightly
      injuring four of the children.

      Civilians have repeatedly fallen victim to violence in Afghanistan
      that has surged ahead of a landmark presidential election Oct. 9.

      A bomb in an Islamic school in southeastern Afghanistan killed nine
      children and their teacher on Saturday. The U.S. military has
      suggested it was targeted for teaching ``progressive'' subjects.

      On Sunday, a car-bomb exploded outside an American firm training
      Afghan police in Kabul, killing as many as 10 people, including three
      Americans. The Taliban claimed the attack, which struck a grim
      parallel with attacks on police facilities in Iraq.

      Afghan authorities seized more than a half ton of explosives and
      arrested three people on Monday in Chahar Asyab, just south of Kabul,
      a senior intelligence official said. It was not clear if the men were
      suspected in Sunday's blast or what they planned to do with the
      explosives.

      Neither the military nor Akbar said which militant group might have
      been involved in the fighting in Kunar. But the area is considered a
      stronghold of fighters loyal to renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

      Several relief organizations have tried to maintain their operations
      in the east, despite a spate of roadside bombings and clashes between
      militias, rebels and U.S.-allied forces.

      Militant attacks across much of the deprived south and east of the
      country have already left a vast swath of the country off-limits for
      international aid groups.

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