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United Nations Denies U-S Pressure - 2002-07-31


The United Nations is denying it gave in to U-S pressure and squelched the findings of a U-N investigation into a deadly U-S air strike on an Afghan village that killed civilians.

The United Nations said Tuesday it will not release its report to the public. U-N officials in Kabul said the draft report was not fully documented and any conclusions drawn from it could not be described as "sufficiently substantiated."

On Monday the Times of London newspaper said U-N investigators reported that the United States may have removed evidence from the site of the July first airstrike.

A U-S military spokesman at Bagram Air Base denied that coalition forces removed any evidence from the scene.

The United Nations did turn its findings over to the Afghan and U-S governments. They are conducting their own investigations into the airstrike that local Afghans say killed 48 civilians celebrating a wedding.

The U-N report was based on a July third to fourth fact-finding trip by U-N staff.

According to the Times of London, the U-N investigators were unable to corroborate U-S statements that the AC-130 gunship involved in the airstrike had come under fire from the ground. The U-N report said no destroyed weaponry or spent ammunition was found at the scene of the attack.

U-S military officials have insisted the gunship came under direct hostile fire from the ground. Local Afghans say that during a wedding celebration, it is traditional to shoot guns in the air.

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