Afghan says five civilians died in U.S. airstrike on insurgents

Governor of province says coalition forces retaliated for attack on Konar base

September 01, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

KABUL, Afghanistan -- At least five civilians, including two children, were killed and eight injured by American airstrikes against insurgents in Konar province Monday night, the provincial governor said in a telephone interview.

The governor said 12 insurgents were killed.

The retaliatory strikes came after insurgents attacked a base used by the U.S.-led coalition and a district headquarters with rockets, missiles and heavy weapons about 11 p.m. Monday, said Gov. Sayed Fazil Akbar.

Coalition soldiers called in air support, and "they bombarded the surrounding area where the enemy was hiding," the governor said. That area included villages, he said, where the attackers had hidden. Homes and shops were also damaged, he said, although he could not say how many.

A coalition soldier and an Afghan soldier were wounded, and 12 of the insurgents killed, the governor said. The dead civilians included one woman, two men and two children.

A statement from the U.S.-led coalition described the insurgents' attack and accused the insurgents of firing indiscriminately at villagers. It said seven children had been injured when an insurgent blew himself up with a grenade and the coalition had evacuated the injured.

A subsequent statement referred to coalition attack aircraft suppressing the insurgents' attack and said one child was in guarded condition and the rest in stable.

Neither statement referred to civilian deaths, and a military spokesman at the Kabul Press Center said he had no information about them.

The governor said the damage suffered by civilians was "the responsibility of enemy al-Qaida and Taliban."

"They are using the villages as the bunkers," he said. "Because of this the civilians are suffering. We request the civilian and tribal elders to not let the opposition use their area."

In Kabul, a memorial service was conducted for the victims of Sunday's bomb attack. Three Americans employed by DynCorp Inc. as part of a U.S. government contract to train the Afghan police and advise its ministries died in the attack, which targeted their office.

One Nepalese employee of the company is also believed to have died, although company officials said they had not definitively identified his remains.

At least seven Afghans died as well, including a 7-year-old girl who was playing in the street. Three bodies, all unrecognizable, were unclaimed at the city's military hospital, said the hospital's head doctor, Gen. Latiq Shamim.

H.J. Lloyd, a retired brigadier general who is DynCorp's vice president for operations in Afghanistan and who was slightly injured Sunday, said the number of deaths could have been much higher.

Ordinarily, about 40 DynCorp employees would have been gathered in the house for dinner about 5:45 p.m., when the bomb exploded, but most had left to eat elsewhere because the kitchen was under renovation, he said.

Only eight people were left in the house, and those killed were outside.

"We could have lost 30 people," he said. "We feel we were most fortunate."

With warnings of further attacks continuing, Afghan officials said last night that they had arrested three men on the outskirts of Kabul with about 600 kilograms of explosives. No further details were available.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.