Dear Mr. President: Words of Resistance, Reason, and Peace

Afghan Villagers Ask Why The US
Unleashed Its Wrath On Them

October 15, 2001, 04:51 PM

KABUL (AFP) - A US bomb intended for an alleged training camp of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda group instead decimated this hamlet of impoverished Afghan farmers, demolishing dozens of homes and wiping out whole families, witnesses said Sunday.

International journalists taken to the village were greeted with scenes of devastation and angry protests by locals demanding to know why America's wrath had been directed at them.

Dozens of houses had been reduced to empty, roof-less shells or razed to the ground. An unexploded bomb lay just meters (yards) from the edge of the village and the stench of rotting flesh still hung in the air.

The village has been abandoned since the attack in the early hours of Thursday. But people returned on Sunday to scream anti-American slogans and recount their stories.

Villagers' estimates of the death toll varied between 180 and 230 in a settlement of mud-brick houses that could not have been home to more than 400 people.

"One hundred and eighty people died here. Why are the Americans attacking our innocent people?" asked one villager, Gul Ahmed.

"I have lost my nearest and dearest," said Haji Naziz. "Why have they been killed? What is our crime?"

Another villager, Ziarat Jul, said more than 230 people had been killed.

Abdul Rasool, 40, said his was one of the homes destroyed. His wife, whose name he did not want to give, and three sons, Satik, 6, Turial, 10 and Pardes, 15, were all killed, he said.

Rasool said he had escaped because he had risen before dawn to attend morning prayers, as he has done every day of his adult life. He was on his way home at around 5.00 am when the bomb struck.

"I heard a huge bang and I ran to my house but there was nothing I could do. It was completely destroyed," he said.

"My family, all my animals are dead. I have nothing left. Why has this happened to me?"

Alam Gul, 18, said he had lost both his parents, four brothers and two sisters. Qudra Ula, 35, a resident of a neighboring village, said he had recovered 15 bodies from the rubble of collapsed houses and taken them to be buried.

The village of Kadam is around 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The region has been repeatedly attacked since the air strikes began September 7.

The residents of Kadam denied that there had been a training camp in the area. "Where is Osama, just show me," said Gul Ahmed.

The reported victims at Kadam were among more than 300 civilians which the Taliban says have been killed since the air strikes began. The US defense department has not commented on the incident in Kadam but has confirmed that a 2,000-pound (907-kilo) bomb aimed at a military helicopter hit a residential area near Kabul airport on Saturday.

The journalists also went to the main Jalalabad hospital where they saw young children and elderly Afghans who were injured in the Kadam bombing.

Mohammad Wali, 10, his head swathed in bandages from splinter wounds, lay on a bed watched over by his anxious father.

"His three brothers all died," his father said. "But he doesn't know that yet."

The head of the hospital, Sher Ali Hanfi, said hundreds of injured civilians had been brought to the hospital in the past week.

"We have at least 15 children here who have lost both their parents," Hanfi said, adding that the 450-bed hospital was running dangerously short of medicine and surgical equipment.


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