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Stray U-S Bomb Hits Afghan Civilians - 2001-10-13


U-S warplanes have launched another round of air strikes against military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan as the Pentagon admits a stray bomb hit a residential area near the capital, Kabul.

A fresh round of air raids on Kabul and the Taleban's southern stronghold Kandahar lit up the night sky Saturday, as attack planes fired missiles. Taleban defense troops responded with anti-aircraft fire. Witnesses in both cities report explosions and fires caused by bombs dropped by the U-S aircraft.

Meanwhile, U-S defense officials say a radar-guided "smart bomb" missed its target and accidentally hit a residential area near Kabul's airport Friday. A Pentagon statement says a Navy jet fired at a Taleban helicopter, but the bomb fell nearly two kilometers away because of an apparent targeting error.

Witnesses said four people were killed and eight others injured in the explosion. U-S officials say they cannot confirm those numbers, but say they regret the loss of life. The officials say the accident is under investigation and stress that the United States targets only military and terrorist positions and takes great care to avoid civilian casualties.

Taleban officials claim at least 300 civilians have died in seven days of bombings, but this has not been confirmed. Reporters' movements inside Afghanistan and in Pakistan's border area are severely restricted.

Meanwhile, Taleban officials have again refused to hand over suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to face trial on charges of planning attacks against the United States. Taleban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar says his movement will not surrender anyone to the United States.

Mullah Omar said the Bush administration is unfairly attacking Afghanistan to mask the failure of U-S intelligence to prevent the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The Taleban leader also said the world's Muslims must decide whether to support Afghanistan or the United States.

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