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  May 6, 2009

US strike in Afghanistan kills dozens

Afghan villagers yesterday mourned relatives buried in mass graves after US-led airstrikes
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US-LED STRIKE IN AFGHANISTAN (VOICEOVER): The pain of loss. Two women just in absolute despair. A nearby hospital. Children who lived through a nightmare. But their injuries testify to the horror of what happened. The pieces of the bombs that fell from the sky in the early evening. Devastation and ruins—the aftermath of an air bombardment that, it seems, showed no discretion in whom was killed. The dead already buried. Thirty or forty individual graves. The silence speaks for their grief. Taliban fighters had used the civilians as human shields, herding them into houses that were then struck by US-led coalition warplanes. If the reports of over 100 dead are true, it will be the most deadly incident involving civilian casualties since international troops entered Afghanistan.


KAI EIDE, UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN AFGHANISTAN: We take that kind of incident very seriously. I have spoken several times with the commander [of] ISAF, General McKiernan. I think the facts on the ground are still unclear. There is investigations going on. We certainly also would like to send out team as soon as possible to try to clarify what has actually happened. Yet there is no doubt it seems to have been a serious incident. Circumstances are unclear.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

EIDE: I think we've seen how repeated incidents of civilian casualties affect the relationship between the Afghan people and the international community. There has been a decline in certain part of the country in support for the international military. It is important to regain that support. And avoiding civilian casualties is, of course, one important element in securing an increasing support from the Afghan people, not least in the situation where we may go into the most difficult fighting season that we have experienced.


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