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Agence France Presse

US Raids Made 2,000 Afghans Homeless: Red Cross

Agence France Presse staff

KABUL - Bombing by US forces in western Afghanistan last month wrecked 173 houses and left 2,000 people homeless, the Red Cross said, announcing findings of its assessment of the damage.

Preliminary UN and Afghan investigations have found that around 50 civilians were killed in the April 27 and 29 assaults, which involved US Special Forces, with final reports due this week. 0519 08

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed in a statement that the clashes "killed dozens of civilians" and reprimanded foreign forces over civilian casualties caused in operations against Taliban militants.

The assault also "left 230 families, almost 2,000 people, in four villages homeless," it said.

A delegation from the Red Cross and the Afghan Red Crescent Society also found that "173 houses had been destroyed or were so badly damaged as to be uninhabitable."

The groups are distributing relief to the displaced families, including food, tarpaulins, pressure cookers, blankets and jerry cans.

The US-led coalition has said 136 Taliban fighters were killed in the clashes.

It is investigating claims of civilian deaths, with the reported toll one of the highest in the campaign against the militants, which has lasted nearly six years. The US military has said an "appropriate level of force" was used.

The head of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, Reto Stocker, said all sides involved in the conflict were "legally obliged to distinguish at all times between legitimate military objectives and the civilian population and civilian objects."

They must weigh up the possible incidental loss of civilian life and damage against the expected military outcome of an attack, Stocker said in the statement.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse.

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