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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
'Scores killed' in US Afghan raid
A young survivor of the bombing in hospital
Hospital staff say many children were orphaned
Reports from Afghanistan say the United States air force has mistakenly bombed a village wedding party, killing many of the guests.

A witness from the village, in Uruzgan province, told the BBC the overnight raid left scores of people - many of them women - dead.

Afghan officials in the capital, Kabul, put the death toll at at least 30, although other reports say the figure is much higher.

At least one bomb was errant, we don't know where it fell

US military spokesman

In Washington, a military spokesman said a coalition air reconnaissance patrol flying in the area had reported coming under anti-aircraft artillery fire.

The Pentagon said aircraft took retaliatory action as well as targeting other sites that had been identified earlier.

It said several legitimate ground targets were hit, including the anti-aircraft artillery sites that had been firing.

Mistake admitted

But a spokesman admitted there had been a mistake and an investigation has been launched.

"At least one bomb was errant. We don't know where it fell," he said.
Map of Afghanistan showing Uruzgan province

An AC-130 gunship, a B-52 bomber and other aircraft were involved in the incident.

Some reports suggest that the American planes may have mistaken gunfiring at the wedding for hostile fire aimed at them.

Afghans often fire guns in the air during weddings and other celebrations.

The village hit is in the same area as the ancestral home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the vanquished Taleban.

A US military spokesman added that four injured civilians had been airlifted to hospital by US forces.

'Compatriots martyred'

There are no Taleban or al-Qaeda or Arabs here - these people were all civilians, women and children

Villager Abdul Saboor

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said aid was being organised for the area and a commission had been set up to investigate the incident.

"We have learned with regret that a number of our compatriots have been martyred and injured as a result of accidental bombing in Dehrawad district, Uruzgan province," he said.

An official from the province told the AFP news agency that he had been told at least 40 people were dead and another 60 or 70 wounded.

He added: "It was a wedding party in which some people were firing in jubilation and the Americans misunderstood and bombarded the place."

Survivors from the bombing said more than 120 people were killed or wounded.

A young survivor of the bombing in hospital
A survivor said victims had to wait many hours before help arrived
A resident from the bombed area, Abdul Saboor, told the BBC: "There was no-one to help last night.

"We managed to transfer some of the wounded to Kandahar in the morning. Some of the foreigners' choppers also came to help.

"There are no Taleban or al-Qaeda or Arabs here. These people were all civilians, women and children."

At the Mir Wais hospital in Kandahar, staff said they had been told most of the dead were women and children.

Nurse Mohammed Nadir said: "The villagers brought these children and they have no parents.

"Everyone says that their parents are dead."

One six-year-old girl was brought to the hospital still wearing her party dress.

She was injured, and villagers said all members of her family were killed.

Targeting errors

US forces operating in Afghanistan have made a number of errors during the campaign against the Taleban and al-Qaeda forces.

An AC-130 gunship
The attack was carried out by a force including AC-130 gunships and B-52 bombers

  • Four Canadian soldiers were killed in April when a US fighter bombed them by mistake during a training exercise.

  • In January, US bombs killed civilians in the village of Hazar Qadam, targeted as a Taleban compound.

  • In December, planes bombed a convoy from the eastern town of Khost, killing people Mr Karzai said were tribal elders travelling for his inauguration.

  • Last October, a targeting error led to a bomb hitting a residential area of Kabul, instead of a helicopter at the airport.

    The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
    "The purpose of the mission is unclear but the American forces say they came under fire"


    Political uncertainty






    See also:

    20 Jun 02 | South Asia
    12 Feb 02 | South Asia
    06 Feb 02 | South Asia
    23 Dec 01 | South Asia
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