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Afghan Government Demands Review

July 2, 2002

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ The Afghan government called Tuesday for ``strong measures″ and better intelligence to avoid a repeat of attacks on civilians in wake of the bombing of a central Afghan village in which scores were killed.

Foreign Minister Abdullah urged that coalition military operations against al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives continue but added that the ``whole procedure″ for launching attacks ``should be reviewed to avoid such incidents″ as the Monday bombing around the village of Kakarak in Uruzgan province.

Abdullah said in all, four villages were attacked, killing 40 civilians and injuring about 100. He said all 25 members of one family were killed.

``Strong measures have to be taken to avoid such further incidents,″ he told reporters. ``This situation has to come to an end. Mistakes can take place, human errors are possible, but our people should be assured that every measure was taken to avoid such incidents.″

Abdullah said the ``enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan″ could exploit such accidents to drum up opposition against coalition forces and the government of President Hamid Karzai.

He repeated allegations that the victims included members of a wedding party but made no mention of any celebratory gunfire which have have been misinterpreted as an attack.

It was the first time the Afghan government has condemned an incident of friendly fire despite several mistakes during operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Karzai expressed concern that innocent Afghan civilians are being caught in the cross fire in the war on terrorism.

``I will definitely want the Afghan civilians, the Afghan villages to be immune from accidental damage,″ Karzai said. ``To be sure that they do not receive accidental firing at them. To make sure that our women and children and villages don’t suffer.″

In areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan, where U.S. special forces and their coalition allies have focused their war against fugitive al-Qaida and Taliban elements, some villagers say they are being wrongly targeted for arrest or harassment as al-Qaida and Taliban suspects.

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