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Rally held in Kabul against US bombing

July 05, 2002

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KABUL, July 4: Dozens of Afghans protested in Kabul on Thursday against a US bomb raid last week which killed 40 people during pre-wedding celebrations in a remote village.

In the first-ever public demonstration against the US-led nine-month military campaign in Afghanistan, some 50 protesters warned that any further civilian casualties from misguided attacks would provoke anti-US hostility.

“The Afghans, who have had enough of war and bloodshed in the past 23 years, will seriously react if it is repeated,” said one of the protest’s organizers, Abdul Qayum Shaban.

Men dressed in shalwar-kameez outfits and women clad in blue burqas rallied outside the United Nations office.

The only woman showing her face, Torpaikai, said the entire Afghan nation was shocked to hear that innocent children and women were killed in the US airstrike on Sunday night in central Uruzgan province’s Dehrawad district.

“Our people everywhere share the pain and grief of the people of Uruzgan,” she said.

“Afghans are tired of killings and bloodshed.”

The protest came as US investigators, on a joint fact-finding trip with their Afghan counterparts to one of the sites which was hit in the Sunday night raid, said they saw no bodies.

Reporters accompanying the probe team said villagers told them that some bodies had been buried and that others were taken away by relatives, according to a pool report released in Washington.

US military officials have said that a US AC-130 gunship in the area had come under anti-aircraft artillery fire, and it retaliated at six individual locations.

Local officials have accused the US planes of confusing traditional celebratory gunfire at the wedding with enemy fire.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians have been killed or wounded in Afghanistan since the United States began air strikes against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in October last year.

The United States has acknowledged that a number of bombs have gone astray but has not provided any figures for civilian casualties.—AFP