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Defense Officials Say It Will Take Time To Uncover Details of Afghan Attack - 2002-07-03


U-S defense officials say it will take some time to uncover the details of an attack in southern Afghanistan that might have killed up to 40 Afghan civilians.

At the Pentagon today (Wednesday) Marine Corps Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold told reporters that it is too early to say that American forces were responsible for the casualties.

Afghan witnesses say an American warplane fired on a large group of people attending a wedding celebrations. Some witnesses say party-goers had been firing riffles into the air in revelry -- a tradition at ethnic Pashtun weddings.

On Tuesday, U-S officials said the gunship attacked several targets in the area of the incident in response to what the crew thought was ground-based anti-aircraft fire.

The Pentagon says a joint U-S-Afghan team is questioning villagers about the incident, which took place north of Kandahar.

President Bush has extended condolences for the loss of innocent life, no matter what the cause is determined to be.

Also on Tuesday, U-S soldiers in Kandahar came under enemy fire, after visiting a hospital to check on Afghan civilians who were apparently wounded in Sunday night's incident. A Pentagon spokeswoman said that six U-S soldiers were driving back to their base in the southern Afghan city when they were ambushed. She said one soldier was slightly wounded.

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