Thursday, May 14, 2009

95 kids died in US-Taliban clash: Afghan official

Ninety-five Afghan children are among the 140 people said to have died in a recent US-Taliban battle in western Afghanistan, according to a list drawn up by Afghan officials, a lawmaker said on Wednesday. The US military disputed the claim.

Afghans blame US air strikes for the deaths and destruction in the villages of Gerani and Ganjabad in Farah province.

Sixty-five of the reported victims on the list were female, either adults or children, said lawmaker Obaidullah Helali, a lawmaker from Farah and a member of the government’s investigative team. If the Afghan toll is correct, it would be the largest case of civilian deaths since the 2001 US-led invasion to oust the Taliban.

USmilitary spokesman Col. Greg Julian said, “There is no physical proof that can substantiate” the Afghan list of victims. The US has refused to release a number of people it thinks died in the May 4-5 clash in Farah’s Bala Baluk district.

Julian said militants are to blame for the deaths because they kept villagers hostage during the fight.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also has said that women and children were among dozens of dead people its teams saw in the two villages, but it did not provide an overall figure. – (NDTV/Associated Press)

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