KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — U.S. helicopter gunships and jets attacked a house Monday while a wedding was under way, killing and injuring scores, witnesses and hospital officials said.
The attack occurred in the village of Kakarak in Uruzgan province, where special forces and other coalition troops are searching for al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives.
A Pentagon spokesman said a coalition air reconnaissance patrol that was flying over Uruzgan province Sunday night reported coming under anti-aircraft artillery fire. Other coalition aircraft opened fire on the target and at least one bomb went astray.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was not immediately clear where the errant bomb hit. He said the Pentagon was aware of reports from Afghanistan of civilian casualties in Uruzgan province but it was unclear whether they were caused by the errant U.S. bomb or by falling anti-aircraft artillery.
The official had no other details, including the kind of U.S. aircraft that launched the errant bomb.
There was no comment from U.S. officials.
One survivor, Abdul Qayyum, told reporters at the Mir Wais Hospital in Kandahar that the attack began about 2 a.m. and continued until 4 a.m., after which U.S. special forces ground troops were in the area.
“The Americans came and asked me ’who fired on the helicopters’, and I said ’I don’t know’ and one of the soldiers wanted to tie my hands but someone said he is an old man and out of the respect they didn’t,” he said.
Hospital officials said a number of wounded were being brought to Kandahar. Most of the dead and injured were women and children, they said.
“We have many children who are injured and who have no family,” nurse Mohammed Nadir said. “Their families are gone. The villagers brought these children and they have no parents. Everyone says that their parents are dead.”
© 2002 The Associated Press