U.S. radio broadcasts into
Afghanistan now include a safety warning: airdropped food
parcels are square, unexploded cluster bombs are can-shaped,
and both are yellow, so it is important to tell them apart.
``Attention people of Afghanistan!'' the broadcasts in
Persian and Pashto say. ``As you may have heard, the Partnership
of Nations is dropping yellow Humanitarian Daily Rations. The
rations are square-shaped and are packaged in plastic. They are
full of good nutritious, Halal food,'' prepared according to
``In areas far from where we are dropping food, we are
dropping cluster bombs,'' the radio spots say, according to a
transcript obtained on Monday.
``Although it is unlikely, it is possible that not every
bomb will explode on impact. These bombs are a yellow color and
are can-shaped ...
``Once again, we will not be using these bombs in areas near
where we are dropping relief supplies. Please, please exercise
caution when approaching unidentified yellow objects in areas
that have been recently bombed.''
Cluster bombs are meant to hit so-called soft targets,
including people and vehicles. Cluster bombs can contain many
bomblets that disperse as they drop, and it is these that might
be mistaken for food packages. Bomblets that fail to explode on
impact could well blow up if disturbed on the ground.
The ones mentioned in the radio spot are cylindrical,
measuring about 2.5 inches by 6.5 inches, some with a yellow
''tail'' on top. Each Humanitarian Daily Ration (HDR) is
approximately 7 inches by 13 inches.
The radio warning is a departure from other broadcasts in
the area delivered in a U.S. operation named ``Commando Solo.''
Transcripts of these broadcasts released earlier by the
Pentagon showed they were aimed at members of Afghanistan's
ruling Taliban, believed by Washington to be harboring Osama
bin Laden and his al Qaeda guerrillas.
Washington holds bin Laden responsible for the Sept. 11
hijack attacks on the United States that killed some 4,800
people, and blames the Taliban for harboring him.
``When you decide to surrender, approach United States
forces with your hands in the air,'' an earlier radio message
said. ``Sling your weapons across your back, muzzle toward the
ground. Remove your magazine and expel any rounds. Doing this
is your only chance of survival.''
As of Monday, U.S. military planes had dropped some 960,000
HDR food packages on Afghanistan. The yellow-wrapped
2,000-calorie meatless bundles are a key propaganda component
of President Bush's war against terrorism.
The Bush administration has stressed that the United States
is not at war with the people of Afghanistan.
As airstrikes continued for a 23rd day on Monday, so did
the delivery of airdropped HDRs, Defense Department officials
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited.