Tue, May 23, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Air raid kills 66 Taliban, civilians

INNOCENT VICTIMS The coalition's attack on a Taliban stronghold killed not only about 50 militants but also 16 civilians with another 16 lying wounded

AGENCIES , KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN

Afghan men carry a wounded man in a regional hospital in Kandahar yesterday following overnight bombings by coalition warplanes.

PHOTO: AFP

At least 16 civilians were killed and 16 wounded when coalition warplanes bombed a village in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said yesterday.

Up to 60 Taliban militants were also killed in the overnight air raid in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar Province, Governor Asadullah Khalid told reporters at a hospital in Kandahar City.

US-led coalition spokesman Major Scott Lundy earlier confirmed the strike on the village of Azizi in Kandahar and said about 50 militants were killed. He said the military was investigating whether some civilians had also died.

Khalid said beside the 16 civilians killed, another 16 had been wounded and brought to hospitals in Kandahar City, a former Taliban stronghold.

"These sort of accidents happen during fighting, especially when the Taliban are hiding in homes," he told reporters. "I urge people not to give shelter to the Taliban."

Bleeding and burnt children, women and men started arriving at Kandahar hospital early yesterday, ferried by truck, taxi and minibus -- any vehicle that withstood the coalition bombardment of their village in southern Afghanistan.

"Oh my God, they killed my kids" wept 60-year-old Attah Mohammad in anguish, tears streaming down his silver beard. "They've killed innocent people."

Mohammed brought in eight relatives, some of whom were struggling for their lives in the operating theatre, but his thoughts were for the 24 dead he said were left behind.

Coalition warplanes started dropping bombs on the village of Panjwayi around midnight on Sunday, he said, his shaking hands still smeared with blood.

"God may take my revenge on them," Mohammad said, as people gathered around him under the shade of a flowering pomegranate tree in the grounds of the hospital.

"They took everyone from me," he whispered in tears.

Villager Hafiz Mohammad, 25, said he saw "lots of people wounded and dead."

"I could pick only six wounded, there were many more waiting for vehicles to help them come to hospital," he added.

Inside the building doctors with blood-smeared white uniforms hurried around. They said more than 15 civilians had been admitted but many more were expected as witnesses reported scores were wounded in the air raid.

Only those who could find a working vehicle had been able to make the 35km journey to Kandahar, with many left behind, shocked villagers said. Some were on their way, they said.

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