Friday, August 12, 2005

villagers say 'bomb killed civilians'

Associated Press

QALAT, Afghanistan -- Afghan villagers said yesterday that US warplanes had bombed houses, killing several civilians and wounding others, including an infant. US forces suffered their sixth fatality in a week amid rising violence.

Zabul Governor Ali Khail said that US-led coalition forces made ''a mistake" during operations against militants in the southern province and that civilians had died.

But the US military denied that civilians were at the scene of the fighting in Day Chopan district on Monday, and the district's police chief said Taliban insurgents had been hiding in the area. American officials said earlier that 18 suspected Taliban guerrillas and a US service member had been killed in the clash.

Another US service member died yesterday when militants ambushed a group of American military engineers near a road construction project in Paktika Province. Another service member was wounded.

The death was the sixth US fatality since Aug. 4 when three US forces were killed in military operations in eastern Afghanistan. On Tuesday, an American service member died in a roadside bomb.

The US Defense Department's website says at least 176 American troops have died in and around the country since Operation Enduring Freedom began in late 2001 to topple the Taliban regime. The Web posting was last updated Wednesday.
Two villagers at a hospital in Qalat, the capital of Zabul, said their home village of Rauf had been pounded by American bombs on Monday night and early Tuesday.

''The children were crying, and they were very afraid," said a weeping Sadia Bibi, 50. ''These planes killed my relatives. We are poor and innocent people. Why are they killing us?"

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