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Pentagon:  Afghans Firing on US Troops Made Deadly Mistake - 2002-02-26

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says the victims of a controversial American raid last month made a deadly mistake when they opened fire on U.S. troops.

The Pentagon has not apologized for the botched raid north of Kandahar even though it has acknowledged the 16 Afghans killed were neither members of the Taleban nor al-Qaida.

General Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says the deaths were unfortunate.

But he says those killed were at fault for having opened fire on U.S. troops who staged the surprise nighttime attack on a suspected weapons depot. General Franks said, "The one mistake that I know was made was when people shot at American forces doing their job on the ground in Afghanistan."

General Franks says U.S. troops involved in the raid will not be disciplined.

In addition to those killed, U.S. forces detained 27 Afghans. They were later released after it was determined they were not Taleban or al-Qaida.

Afghan sources have said those killed and captured were supporters of the country's new interim government, who were collecting weapons in a disarmament drive.

Families of the victims are reported to have been paid as much as $1,000 as compensation for the deaths.