U.S. Jets Bomb Afghan Village; 12 Dead
- 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
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
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
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
Akbar said five civilians were killed in the American bombardment -
two men, two children and a woman - but blamed the militants for the
``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
``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
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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