Afghans Outraged - Charge US
Troops With Inhuman Cruelty

(AFP) - US soldiers stormed the homes of Afghan villagers after they were bombed in a US air-raid last weekend and barred people from treating their wounded relatives, outraged Afghans said here.

"First they bombed the womenfolk, killing them like animals. Then they stormed into the houses and tied the hands of men and women," Mohammad Anwar told AFP at Kakrakai village in central Uruzgan province's Dehrawad district.

"It was cruelty. After bombing the area, the US forces rushed to that house, cordoned it off and refused to let the people help the victims or take them away for treatment," he said.

Anwar was pointing to the home of his brother Sharif, who was hosting a huge pre-wedding party for his son on the night of June 30 when US airships strafed Karkrakai and surrounding villages.

Sharif, who risked the wrath of the Taliban to keep Afghan President Hamid Karzai alive during his daring mission into then-Taliban-ruled central Afghanistan last October, was killed.

So were Anwar's wife, Sharif's wife and four children. The groom-to-be son survived because he was confined to a separate house as local wedding tradition decrees.

The US-led coalition commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Dan McNeil, announced Saturday that 48 people, according to Afghan officials, had been killed.

Anwar, a senior Karzai-appointed military commander in neighbouring Kandahar province, said the toll would have been less if the troops storming his brother's home had allowed relatives to tend to the victims.

"Had people been allowed to take these injured to the hospital more and more lives would have been saved," he said as he received bereaved villagers in the local mosque.

"Many of the injured with broken arms and broken legs died due to loss of blood.

"Until seven or eight o'clock in the morning the Americans did not allow anyone to help the injured and to cover the bodies. Most of their clothes had been burnt off (in the attack).

"They kept filming and photographing the naked women."

Anwar said he had no answers for the questions of his stunned people.

"The people are asking: Is the result of the support we have extended to the Americans? This is humiliation. Our women were disgraced."

The United States, in Afghanistan seeking remnants of the former hardline Islamic Taliban regime and its al-Qaeda allies, has insisted that coalition aircraft had attacked only after they were fired on.

It began air strikes against al-Qaeda and the now-ousted Taliban in October last year, after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States blamed on al-Qaeda.

Anti-American rage gripped the nearby villages of Shatoghai, Siasung and Mazar, also hit in the US bombardment.

"One day God will give us the strength and we will fight them," said Haji Wali, whose home in Shatoghai was attacked.

"Even during the Russian's occupation (1979-1989) there was never such a sustained bombing of the area. We are weak and they are oppressing us," he railed.

He trashed attempts at compensation, saying coalition forces had offered the villagers' tents.

"They want to please us by providing us with four tents. Is two or four tents worth the price of our lives?

"Would the Americans forgive us if we killed two Americans and give them two tents in return? The Taliban used to lock us in jail, but they would not bomb us and dishonour our women."

Jamal Khatun lost her son, 13, and grandsons Rehmat and Nabi, both four, in the strike on Siasung village.

"We were asleep on the verandah when the bombs hit, we had no idea what was happening," she told AFP as she clutched the blood-soaked clothes of her dead son and grandchildren.

Rozi Khan said a child was killed and eight people injured in her village of Mazar.

"We migrated here to escape drought. Why was our house targeted?"