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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 18:23 GMT
The US intelligence dilemma

By Crispin Thorold
BBC correspondent in Kabul

For the US-led forces in Afghanistan, intelligence is key in the hunt for the Taleban.

US troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan
Faulty intelligence has hamstrung America's fight against the Taleban

The coalition relies on local information to find militants from the former regime and their allies.

The admission that Afghan children have been killed by the American military for the second time in a week has exposed the difficulties of this war.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition said six children and two adults died when a compound was attacked on Friday evening.


The Americans believe a munitions store inside the complex exploded during their operation.

They say a wall that collapsed crushed the children.

"Though we don't know exactly what caused the wall to collapse, we know it was a military compound, it was a military target and subject to significant coalition firepower," US military spokesman Major Richard Slater told the BBC.

This, said the Major, resulted "in sustained secondary explosions because of the large amounts of enemy munitions that were stored there."

Graves of the nine children killed in Ghazni
Nine children were buried after the Ghazni raid

It hasn't been possible to independently verify this information.

Some local journalists who tried to reach the scene were stopped at checkpoints.

On Saturday nine children and one man were killed during a bombing raid in the south-east.

These mistakes have put President Hamid Karzai's administration in a difficult position.

In the words of one of Afghanistan's vice presidents: "We understand the need to fight terrorism, but," he said, "we are paying a heavy price."

More Afghan children die in raids
10 Dec 03  |  South Asia
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08 Dec 03  |  South Asia
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09 Dec 03  |  South Asia
Country profile: Afghanistan
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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