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Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
US condemned for Afghan blunders
Graves in Afghanistan
The report says the civilian death toll could keep rising
Hundreds of Afghan civilians have been killed because of poor intelligence and the US military's reliance on overwhelming force, a survey has said.

We have to be given a larger role

Abdullah Abdullah,
Afghan Foreign Minister

The survey, published in the New York Times on Sunday, was compiled by the Global Exchange aid group, which sent teams into Afghan villages over a six-month period.

The report lists more than 800 civilians killed in US air strikes, but says that figure is likely to rise as information comes in from more remote areas.

It accuses the Pentagon of relying on inaccurate or misleading information provided by Afghan warlords, and of preferring air strikes to ground operations that might put US forces at risk.

But a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected the criticism, saying that less than 500 civilians were estimated to have been killed in US air strikes.

Lethal force

The Global Exchange survey was highly critical of US strategy in the campaign to track down al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters.

AC-130 gunship
US errors

  • 10 October 2001: 76 reported killed in US raids
  • 13 October: Pentagon admits 2,000lb bomb hit residential area of Kabul
  • 16 October: Red Cross warehouse in Kabul accidentally bombed
  • 22 October: Taleban claim 50-70 killed when bombs struck Kabul hospital
  • 5 December: US bomb kills three Americans and six Afghan soldiers
  • 17 April 2002: Four Canadian soldiers killed when F-16 drops bomb on training exercise
  • 1 July: US AC-130 gunship bombs village in Uruzgan province - 48 civilians reported killed

  • The survey said that even when genuine military targets were identified, civilian lives were still lost because of a disproportionate use of lethal force.

    The New York Times quoted Pentagon officials as saying strategy had changed in recent months, shifting towards increased use of ground forces to hunt down remaining fighters.

    But the paper said a continuing reliance on air power still often had tragic consequences.

    Confusion still surrounds a bombing raid earlier this month in Uruzgan province, which killed up to 46 civilians, 22 of whom were said to have been attending a wedding party.

    US officials have given contradictory accounts of events which led up to the attack, and Afghans are angry that innocent civilians appear to have died.

    Afghan anger

    Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, quoted by the New York Times, demanded a greater say in the way the US campaign was being conducted.

    House damaged in US raid
    The Pentagon insists it is careful choosing targets

    "If things do not improve, well, I will certainly pray for the Americans and wish them success, but I will no longer be able to take part in this," he was quoted as saying.

    Nevertheless, President Karzai's spokesman, Tayeb Jawad, told the BBC that the administration's estimate of less than 500 killed was not that high, considering the scope of the military campaign.

    He admitted, however, that a reliance on air strikes rather than riskier ground operations may have played a part in the civilian deaths.

    In January, a US academic released a study saying the number of Afghan civilians killed by US bombs had already surpassed the death toll of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

    Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire said his research of news agencies, major newspapers and first hand accounts had yielded a death toll of almost 4,000 people.

    Even in January, he described the estimated as "very, very conservative".

    The BBC's Dumeethra Luthra
    "The reviewers found time and again the Americans had missed their stated target"
    New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall
    "The Afghan government hasn't done its own survey".
    Chief of Staff Sayed Tayyeb Jawad
    "We haven't been keeping track of the exact numbers"

    Key stories

    European probe


    See also:

    16 Jul 02 | Americas
    13 Jul 02 | South Asia
    02 Jul 02 | South Asia
    04 Jul 02 | South Asia
    02 Jul 02 | South Asia
    03 Jan 02 | South Asia
    20 Oct 01 | Americas
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