Sunday, July 6, 2008

US-led Forces Bomb Afghani Wedding Party, Kill Women and Children

Claims of more Afghans killed in US-led strikes
06/07/2008 15h56

JALALABAD (AFP) - An Afghan district governor accused the US-led coalition of killing nearly two dozen civilians in an air strike on a wedding party on Sunday but the force insisted only militants died.

Witnesses who brought people they said were wounded in the attack to hospital in Jalalabad also told an AFP reporter that several people were killed and wounded in the strikes in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

But senior Afghan officials could not immediately confirm the claims of civilian casualties and the US-led coalition denied civilians were hit, saying "several" militants were killed.

The allegations could not be independently verified as the area, the Deh Bala district on the border with Pakistan, is remote and difficult to access.

It was the second time in days the force faced charges of high civilian casualties in strikes on militants with Afghan officials saying more than a dozen died in Nuristan province Friday, a claim also rejected by the coalition.

Deh Bala governor Hamisha Gul said 22 people were killed Sunday and several more wounded when the air strikes hit people gathered for a wedding.

"I confirm that 22 people, three of them men and 19 of them women and children, were killed," he told AFP. Gul said his information came from police and other officials he had dispatched to the area to investigate.

About 70 people, mostly women, were escorting a bride to meet her groom in traditional Afghan fashion, said a man from the area who gave his name only as Kerate.

"We were bombed. I couldn't figure out what had happened and I went unconscious. When I woke up, I saw lots of people killed and injured," he told AFP at the hospital in Jalalabad, the provincial capital. Read On

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