- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

KABUL, Afghanistan U.S. air strikes meant to punish the Taliban spilled over yesterday into residential neighborhoods of the Afghan capital, killing 13 civilians the second time in as many days that missiles have accidentally hit homes and killed residents.
Later yesterday, U.S. jets were back over the skies of the capital, and strong explosions could be heard in the direction of the main road from Kabul to the opposition-controlled Bagram air base.
Weeping families buried their dead hours after the morning bombardment, apparently aimed at Taliban targets to the north and east of Kabul.
"I have lost all my family. I am finished," said a sobbing woman in the Qali Hotair neighborhood on the northern edge of Kabul.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesmen had no immediate comment on the latest strikes and civilian casualties involved. It has stressed repeatedly that civilians are never deliberately targeted.
More than 5,000 American civilians were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In neighboring Pakistan, where the government has had to work to keep a lid on pro-Taliban unrest, there was growing concern over civilian casualties.
"We feel the military action should possibly be short and targeted in order to avoid civilian casualties," Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said after meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Pakistan's government has allied itself with the United States in the confrontation over Osama bin Laden, chief suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
In a token of that cooperation, Pakistani officials said yesterday they had turned over to U.S. officials a man wanted in connection with another bin Laden-linked attack the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. The hand-over of the suspect, a Yemeni microbiology student, was the first known arrest outside Yemen in connection with the Cole attack.
Pakistan's main radical Islamic party vowed to step up its challenge to Gen. Musharraf, saying it and other religious groups would meet today to plan a 10-day protest in the capital Islamabad to topple the president.
Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, said the protest would involve a march into Islamabad and a sit-in.
In yesterday morning's air strikes, witnesses said 10 persons were killed in Kabul's Qali Hotair neighborhood. An Associated Press reporter saw six bodies, four of them children. Three others died near an eastern housing complex called Macroyan, witnesses said.
The strikes that hit Kabul came 12 hours after stray bombs landed Saturday evening behind the rebel military alliance's battle lines north of the capital. Areas behind Taliban lines also were reported hit.
Eight or nine civilians were killed, most of them in alliance-held areas, witnesses said.
In the opposition-held village of Ghanikheil, villagers said a 20-year-old woman died in the ruins of her mud-brick house, and six were hurt. Four others were injured in a nearby house, they added.
Rebels confronting Taliban troops north of the capital had been complaining publicly that U.S. air strikes weren't doing enough to advance their cause.
It wasn't known if Saturday's heavy raids were in response to this airing of discontent.
The opposition's spokesman, Abdullah, who uses only one name, called the damage to the Taliban front lines from Saturday's raids significant, and said if such heavy bombardment would be employed routinely, "the objective of eradicating terrorism could be achieved much quicker."
Calling the civilian deaths an unfortunate mistake, Abdullah said, "of course we know this wasn't a deliberate targeting," and added, "we have to coordinate."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide