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US Admits Mistaken Air Afghan Attack Killed 48 - 2002-07-06


U-S and Afghan officials say the campaign against remnants of Taleban forces and the al-Qaida terror network will continue, despite a mistaken American air attack that killed 48 Afghan civilians and wounded 117.

The top U-S military official in Afghanistan, General Dan McNeil, told reporters in Kabul today (Saturday) that the U-S military will investigate fully the attack in central Uruzgan province. General McNeil said the inquiry also will determine what can be done to prevent future civilian casualties.

Speaking at the same news conference, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah said the military campaign against al-Qaida and the Taleban will continue, but that tragic accidents against civilians must be prevented.

General McNeill said a joint U-S - Afghan investigating team determined there were civilian casualties in the attack late Sunday.

U-S officials say they had reliable information that Taleban and al-Qaida fighters were operating in the area. They called in an airstrike after coming under fire. Villagers in the region say they were firing rifles in the air to celebrate a wedding, in line with local traditions.

President Bush telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Friday) and offered his sympathies to the families of the Afghan civilians who died.

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