Attack on Convoy Causes Confusion | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.12.2001
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Attack on Convoy Causes Confusion

Saturday's swearing-in of the new Afghan leader Hamid Karzai was overshadowed by a U.S. attack on a convoy, in which many people were killed. The U.S. and Afghan locals disagree over whether the attack was justified.


U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says a lot of people were killed in the attack.

U.S. Marine Corps General Peter Pace said gunships and fighter aircraft had attacked some ten to twelve vehicles. Some sixty people were reportedly killed.

U.S. officials said they had attacked the convoy late Thursday night because it had been carrying Taliban and al Qaeda leaders and had fired at American planes.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press, however, reported that the convoy was carrying tribal elders on their way to Saturday's ceremony.

According to local Afghan residents of Asmani Kilai in the eastern Paktia province, the U.S. strikes lasted seven hours from Thursday night into Friday.

They told Reuters that 50 to 60 people were killed in the attack.

Some houses and a mosque were also destroyed and several villagers not with the convoy were also killed, they said.

A Pentagon spokesman said U.S. military officials were on the ground investigating the attack.

First findings indicated, however, that the dead were members of the ousted Taliban or fighters from bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

"I will tell you, having been in touch with my headquarters, that at this point we believe it was a good target," U.S. General Tommy Franks said in Kabul.

At a press briefing in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that a lot of people had been killed in the strike.

The new Afghan leader Hamid Karzai on Saturday said he doubted the U.S. aircraft had attacked the wrong people but would "check it out with our American friends".

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