Western coalition raid kills dozens of Afghan civilians

Residents of a town in S. Afghanistan said on Sunday dozens of civilians including women and children had been killed in western coalition aerial bombing.

Western coalition raid kills dozens of Afghan civilians
Residents of a town in southern Afghanistan said on Sunday dozens of civilians including women and children had been killed in western coalition aerial bombing.

British and American forces confirmed there had been fighting in the area but the British denied any air strikes occurred there late on Saturday, while the U.S. military was making checks.

There was no way of independently verifying the accounts.

The strike late on Saturday hit several villages in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, residents said.

At least six wounded civilians were brought to a hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand.

They belonged to the family of Ghulam Mohammad and included three men, two women and a child, said Rahmatullah Hanafi, the head of Emergency hospital where the group was treated.

He said all had shrapnel wounds and one of the women was in a critical condition.

Mohammad said eight of his family members, including children, were also killed in the attack, which he said went on for several hours.

"So far between 60 killed and wounded people have been recovered and there are people who are trapped under collapsed houses," Mohammad told Reuters outside the hospital.

"It was a quiet evening and the bombardment began all of a sudden. Cattle have also been killed," said a family member of Mohammad, called Haji Saeed Mohammad.

"We can't do any thing, can't stay in our villages and can't go anywhere ... it is best for us to be killed all at once than being killed every day," he added.

The U.S. military said U.S.-led coalition troops were conducting an operation in the Musa Qala area. "I understand that there were operations in that area, I don't know if the operations are complete or ongoing," she said.

The British military which has the largest force in Helmand, said there were no air strikes launched in the area.

"There was not an air strike in that area last night. Coalition forces were engaged by the Taliban and there was a contact and a firefight, but no close air support dropped anything," a British military spokeswoman in Helmand said.


Already this year, more than 350 civilians have been killed in attacks by Western troops in Afghanistan, according to aid groups and Afghan officials.

Karzai has repeatedly urged Western troops to coordinate operations with Afghan forces and avoid civilian casualties because it saps support for his government and the foreign troops.


Reuters
Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2007, 00:09
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