US admits bomb 'went astray'
BBC, Oct.13, 2001
A bomb dropped by a US warplane may have missed a Taleban military target at Kabul airport and instead fallen on a residential neighbourhood, US defence officials have admitted.
"We are checking on this," one official was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. "But a large bomb apparently went astray and hit perhaps a mile (1.6km) from its target."
Earlier, witnesses told the BBC by telephone that at least one civilian had been killed and three others injured when US bombs hit houses near the airport.
US warplanes have been carrying out air strikes against Afghanistan since last Sunday, and are now meeting little resistance from Taleban fighters.
The Kabul correspondent of the Arabic satellite TV station al-Jazeera said warplanes could be heard over Kabul on Saturday night, but that air defence activity was relatively quiet compared to previous raids.
Al-Jazeera said it would show "dramatic" footage of damage inflicted on villages that had been targeted during previous raids.
The Taleban say at least 300 civilians have been killed in the strikes - but there is no independent confirmation of the claim.
"We are not going into the cities to attack the cities,'' Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem told reporters at a briefing where the inadvertent civilian hits were announced. ``What hits that may have occurred in residential areas are rare mistakes, or rare errors is probably more appropriate."
On Sunday, a U.S. Navy FA-18 Hornet that was aiming at an Afghan army vehicle storage facility outside the city of Herat instead hit an open field near a home for the elderly with a 1,000-pound bomb, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said.
Clarke also said that on Saturday, a U.S. Navy F-14 fighter plane inadvertently dropped two 500-pound bombs in a residential area northwest of Kabul. It was aiming at military vehicles parked about a half-mile away, she said.
Asked about claims by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban that U.S. forces hit a hospital near Herat on Monday, killing more than 100 people, Clarke said she had no indication of this, only the report near the senior citizens home on Sunday.
Clarke had no information about casualties on the ground, and added, ``We regret any loss of civilian life. ... We care deeply about the loss of life, unlike the people who on Sept. 11 went to great pains to kill thousands of innocent people.''