At least 30 members of an Afghan wedding party were killed and many more wounded when a U.S. plane bombed a village in the central province of Uruzgan today, Afghan officials and residents said.
The bombing happened today in a village in the rugged, mountainous region 175 km (105 miles) northeast of the southern city of Kandahar, residents said.
They told the local Pashtu service of the BBC at least 120 people had been either killed or wounded.
A Defence Ministry official said celebrants were firing into the air, as is traditional in Pashtun weddings.
“There was no-one to help last night,” resident Abdul Saboor told the BBC. “We managed to transfer some of the wounded to Kandahar in the morning. Some of the foreigners’ choppers also came to help.
“There are no Taliban or al Qaeda or Arabs here. These people were all civilians, women and children.”
Defence Ministry offical Dr Gulbuddin told Reuters: “More than 30 people were killed. It was a wedding ceremony and some of the participants were firing in the sky as part of the celebration. Americans have confessed that they made a mistake.”
BOMB MISSED TARGET
In Washington, the Pentagon said at least one bomb dropped by Western warplanes had missed its target in southern Afghanistan today, but that it could not confirm claims that members of a wedding party had been killed.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said anti-aircraft fire was directed at an air patrol of “coalition warplanes” and they had responded with close air support north of Kandahar.
“At least one bomb was errant. We don’t know where it fell,” Davis said. “We are aware of reports of civilian casualties but don’t know if casualties were caused as a result of the bomb.”
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), responsible for security in the capital Kabul, 280 km (170 miles) to the north, told Reuters it had contacted the U.S. liaison office which had heard nothing of any attack.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the local Bakhtar Information Agency the “sudden attack” happened in the Dehrawud district of Uruzgan province.
“We are trying to organise aid and a commission has gone there headed by the ministry of frontiers affairs,” he said.
The United States launched air strikes against Afghanistan last year against the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York, and the group’s Taliban protectors.
There have been several reports of the United States mistakenly attacking civilian targets since Washington’s bombing offensive began.
In May, the U.S. army rejected reports it had mistakenly attacked a wedding party after the private Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported that U.S. planes had pounded the village of Bul Khil in Khost province after mistaking traditional firing at a wedding for an attack.