U.S. Soldiers Blamed in Afghan Boys' Deaths
Published on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 by the Associated Press
U.S. Soldiers Blamed in Afghan Boys' Deaths
Calls for aid ignored, parents charge
by Amir Shah

KABUL -- Furious parents of Afghan children killed by a stray mortar fired during a U.S. military training drill accused American special forces yesterday of ignoring their desperate pleas and letting their sons bleed to death.

Four boys died and three were injured in Saturday's incident at a firing range 10 kilometres east of the capital.

Noor Gul
Afghan boy Noor Gul, 14, center, shows his injured arm to his friends at his residence in Pulicharki village, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Dec.17, 2002. Gul was injured by a stray mortar fired during a weekend training drill by U.S. soldiers on Saturday, Dec.14, 2002. Other children are not identified. (AP Photo/Amir Shah)
The accident occurred as the U.S. 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group from Fort Carson, Colo., was training Afghan soldiers in mortar and rifle fire.

The U.S. military says it is investigating and denies there was any delay in offering aid.

But family members have told reporters a different story.

The brother of one victim said he begged for help, but that U.S. soldiers wouldn't believe him and kept firing.

Two fathers said the Americans made them wait for hours before bringing them their sons, who died soon after.

"The American officers are responsible to God for the children they have killed, and one day they will have to answer for their actions," said Mohammed Akram, whose 15-year-old son Saeed Imran was killed.

Abdul Zaher, an Afghan military officer whose 14-year-old son Hafizullah was killed, said U.S. soldiers ignored his other son's pleas.

"After the accident, my son Habibullah ran to tell the Americans what had happened, but they did not take him seriously," said Abdul Zaher.

Habibullah went to get his father, and Abdul Zaher says he and another man rushed to the scene, but were kept off the range by soldiers.

A spokesperson at the Kabul Military Training Center denied any delay.

"It is completely false," said Sgt. Don Dees, adding a team was sent to rescue the children the minute the army was notified.

Dees said the army had warned residents of the exercises through patrols, and had shot flares before beginning drills. He said the boys sneaked onto the range from behind the hill.

Meanwhile, attackers in Kabul ambushed two U.S. soldiers and an Afghan interpreter at a busy corner yesterday, wounding all three with a grenade.

Kabul's police chief said two men were arrested. One said later during questioning witnessed by journalists that he attacked the Americans because "they were laughing at women."

There have been attacks on U.S. bases in eastern Afghanistan, but attacks on troops in Kabul are rare.

© 2002 The Associated Press