US Bombing Of Wedding Party
Killed 48, Wounded 117

DEBKAfile's Counter-Terror Sources

The US bombing raid that hit a wedding party in central Afghanistan killed at least 48 people and wounded another 117, a US general said quoting Afghan officials.

General Dan McNeill, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, said it was not the policy of the coalition to target innocents. "We do not attack our allies," he said in a joint news conference with Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday.

"If innocent people have been hit, it must be due to an accident."

Sunday's US bombing raid hit a wedding party in the Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan. A joint US/Afghan investigation team was dispatched to the area, returning Saturday to Kabul to present their findings.

The US military and Afghan officials have been at odds over casualties from the air raid in which US aircraft hit at least three villages in Uruzgan province's Dehrawad district.

The United States has maintained that US aircraft conducting an operation against suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members in the area retaliated after coming under attack from anti-aircraft guns.

McNeill confirmed Saturday that a B52 and a AC-130 gunship were involved in attack and said there was evidence that they had been fired on.

"There is ample indication of direct fire against aircraft from the ground," he said.

Survivors of the air raid, recovering in Kandahar's Mirwais Hospital, said late Thursday that the dead were buried under the rubble of homes demolished in at least three villages. Several patients told of losing members of their family.

US military officials have said the joint US-Afghan team failed to find any bodies or graves after a two-day investigation of the site.

On Friday, US President George W. Bush phoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express sympathy over the raid, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said.

Bush assured Karzai that "such an incident would not be repeated in future," the Pakistan-based private news agency quoted a state-run Kabul radio broadcast as saying.

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