Kids dead after US attack in Afghanistan
( 2003-12-07 10:45) (Agencies)
Nine children were found dead after an American air raid in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the U.S. military said.
An American A-10 aircraft struck a site south of Ghazni where a "known terrorist" was believed to be hiding at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Army Maj. Christopher E. West told The Associated Press.
"Following the attack, ground coalition forces searching the area found the bodies of both the intended target and those of nine children nearby," he said Sunday.
The U.S. military was sending a team of investigators to the site to determine if U.S. forces were at fault, West said.
Coalition forces "will make every effort to assist the families of these innocent casualties and determine the cause of the civilian deaths," he said from the U.S. headquarters in Bagram, Afghanistan.
"We regret the loss of any innocent life and we follow stringent rules of engagement to specifically avoid this type of incident while continuing to target terrorists who threaten the future of Afghanistan," West said.
U.S. forces were targeting a suspected militant believed responsible for the killing of two foreign contractors who were working on an Afghan road in October, he said.
West said U.S. troops collected "extensive intelligence over an extended period of time" and located the suspect at an "isolated, rural site."
He said there were other houses nearby, but that the aircraft did not strike them.
"At the time we initiated the attack, we did not know there were children nearby," he said. "Until we get the investigation results, we can't say what exactly happened."
U.S. officials have been trying to track down remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers in eastern and southern Afghanistan. The militants have stepped up attacks in recent months, targeting foreign aid workers and perceived allies of the U.S.-led coalition.
The airstrike came the same day as a bomb attack in Kandahar, the main southern stronghold of the Taliban.
The blast ripped through a bustling bazaar, wounding 20 Afghans. Taliban fighters claimed responsibility, saying the blast was aimed at American soldiers, but went off late.
The bomb, apparently attached to a parked motorcycle or bicycle, exploded in front of a hotel at about 12:30 p.m. in the city's main commercial district.
Six shops were leveled. Broken glass from the shattered hotel front littered the ground, stained by the victims' blood. The wounded included three children, Afghan state TV reported.
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