US Admits 11 Civilians Dead In Bombing Raid On E Afghanistan

, April 09, 2003

The US military in Afghanistan says it has killed 11 Afghan civilians by mistake in an air attack.

The deaths occurred when "a bomb dropped by coalition aircraft landed on a house... near the Pakistan border," a statement issued the US air base at Bagram said.

US-led forces have launched a number of operations in recent weeks against members of the former Taleban regime and remnants of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The eleven dead civilians comprised seven men and four women, the statement said.

"A systematic independent study has been carried out into civilian casualties in Afghanistan by Marc Herold, a US economics professor at the University of New Hampshire. Based on corroborated reports from aid agencies, the UN, eyewitnesses, TV stations, newspapers and news agencies around the world, Herold estimates that at least 3,767 civilians were killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10. That is an average of 62 innocent deaths a day - and an even higher figure than the 3,234 now thought to have been killed in New York and Washington on September 11."

The Guardian, Dec.20, 2001

Another civilian was wounded.

"The bomb missed its intended target and landed on the house. The circumstances of the bombing are being investigated," the US statement said.

According to the statement, four Afghan Government soldiers were wounded in the enemy attack.

Earlier this week, the US said its troops had come under attack near Shkin, which is in the province of Paktika.

Correspondents say there has been growing resentment in southern Afghanistan as civilians have been caught up in a number of US-led security operations.

'Inaccurate information'

The issue of civilian casualties has caused controversy since the US launched its successful campaign to dislodge the former Taleban regime from control of Afghanistan.

In February local people in the province of Helmand said 17 people were killed when the US bombed a suspected Taleban base.

The US denied there had been fatalities.

Last July the New York Times published a report by an American aid group that said US air strikes had killed more than 800 civilians.

"A Guardian report in February estimated these casualties at between 1,300 and 8,000 deaths. A Guardian investigation into the "indirect victims" now confirms the belief of many aid agencies that they exceeded the number who died of direct hits. As many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention. They too belong in any tally of the dead."

The Guardian, May 20, 2002

The aid group, Global Exchange, said the Pentagon relied on inaccurate or misleading information and preferred air strikes to ground operations that might put US forces at risk.

But a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai told the BBC civilian casualties were below 500.

In the most serious incident, the Afghan Government said 48 civilians - mostly women and children - were killed and 117 injured when a US AC-130 plane opened fire on a wedding party.

A US investigation concluded that the air crew were justified in attacking because they had come under fire.

Find out more facts and figures on the US war in Afghanistan on the
web site of Professor Marc W. Herold

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