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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 08:36 GMT
Rumsfeld backs targeting rebels
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld said it was "perfectly logical" to capture or kill insurgents
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has defended American attempts to kill rebel leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We would be happy to have them surrender. And if they don't, we would be happy to kill them," Mr Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday.

His comments came just days after nine Afghan children died in a weekend US air raid on a remote Afghan village in Ghazni province.

The US military now says six children died in another US raid near Gardez.

And we're not going to be perfect... we found that out in Afghanistan
US Air Force General Richard Myers

Mr Rumsfeld and US Air Force General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed condolences over the children's deaths in Ghazni province.

They said Brigadier General Lloyd Austin, US commander of Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan, visited the village and launched an investigation into the incident.

'Exquisite' care

At the Washington briefing, Mr Rumsfeld dismissed the view that US raids amounted to "targeted killings" as a "misunderstanding of the fact that we're in a war".

"The implication, or the connotation, of 'targeted killing', I think, is unfortunate because it suggests an appetite to do that, which is not the case," he said.

General Myers echoed his words, insisting that the US military selected its targets with "exquisite" care.

"There are risks any time you go after any target," General Myers said.

"But I can tell you the kind of vetting that the process goes through, from the beginnings of intelligence to the final operation, is exquisite."

"And we're not going to be perfect. And we found that out in Afghanistan. And we haven't been perfect," he added.


General Myers said it was still "unclear" whether the intended target of Saturday's raid in Ghazni province was killed.

Nine children and one man were killed when US jets fired rockets and bullets at the emote village, which US officials say was housing a member of the Taleban, Mullah Wazir.

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, and the United Nations have expressed shock at the raid that resulted in the deaths of so many children.

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