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 Afghan children die as US drops one-tonne bombs

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The Sameer
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Registration date : 2007-03-07

PostSubject: Afghan children die as US drops one-tonne bombs   Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:03 am

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2331981.ece

Nine civilians, including four children, were killed in Afghanistan when US planes dropped two 2,000lb bombs on their mud home. Their deaths came after at least eight civilians were killed by US Marines a day earlier.

It has been a disastrous two days for the Americans in Afghanistan. First US Marines trying to get to safety after being ambushed by a suicide bomber sprayed gunfire wildly across one of the busiest roads in the country, killing passers-by.

And now US planes have dropped two bombs on a family home, killing children aged between six months and five years.

Last year, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai wept as he pleaded for Western soldiers to take more care to avoid killing civilians. But the killings continue.

Gulam Nabi told reporters yesterday how his parents, his sister, his nephew and four of his siblings' children were killed in the air strikes. The US said it had carried out the bombings after militants fired a rocket at a Nato base in the province of Kapisa.

"Coalition forces observed two men with AK-47s [assault rifles] leaving the scene of the rocket attack and entering the compound," said Lt-Col David Accetta, a military spokesman. "These men knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces."

The "compound" was a small group of mud houses where Mr Nabi's family lived. The air strikes destroyed the house where the family was, according to reports from the scene.

Kapisa, north of Kabul, is some way from the centre of the insurgency and has been relatively free from attacks. If the Nato base there is coming under attack, it is a sign of how far the insurgency has spread.

The deaths of Mr Nabi's relatives came a day after US Marines killed at least eight Afghan civilians in the eastern province of Nangarhar. There was mounting criticism of US forces over the incident yesterday, as the Afghan government announced it would hold its own inquiry. In particular, in a rare piece of defiance, the Afghan Interior Ministry has questioned the US military's claim that the Marines came under militant attack and were returning fire.

The incident took place after a US convoy was targeted in a suicide bombing on a busy highway. Witnesses say that as they drove away from the scene of the attack, US Marines opened fire indiscriminately at cars and pedestrians along the road. "I saw them turning and firing in this direction, then turning and firing in that direction," said Ahmed Najib, a 23-year-old who was shot in the shoulder. "I even saw a farmer shot by the Americans."

The US initially said as many as 16 civilians were killed, but it has since revised its figures. The Marines say they were returning fire. A US official who insisted on anonymity told reporters there was "no doubt in the minds of Marines on the ground that they were being fired on".

But a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, Zemeri Bashary, said: "The coalition says they have proof that gunmen opened fire. But I think more of the gunfire was from the [US] side."

And two senior provincial Afghan officials, who asked not to be named, said they had found no evidence to support the US claims.

The Associated Press news agency has said US soldiers deleted footage and photographs of dead civilians from the cameras of its reporters, and warned them not to publish any images of what had happened. AP said it would lodge a protest with the US military.
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