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US Warplanes Bomb Afghan Village, Civilian Casualties Reported - 2004-08-31


In Afghanistan, at least eight civilians are reported dead in a clash between U.S. forces and suspected anti-government militants.

Afghan officials say the civilians were killed late Monday in eastern Kunar Province when U.S warplanes bombed a village.

Reports say a compound belonging to a Danish relief group was also hit during the attack, injuring a member of the group.

A U.S. military statement said the aircraft were helping to counter an attack by militants against coalition troops.

But the statement does not confirm air strikes against civilians. The statement says only that a group of children were injured after an insurgent blew himself up with a grenade in the area.

The fighting in Kunar Province follows a major bomb attack against the office of a U.S. company Sunday in Kabul. The blast killed at least 10 people, including three Americans and three Nepalese. The private U.S. firm provides security for transitional President Hamid Karzai and is also training the Afghan national police.

Speaking to reporters, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the insurgent attack in Kabul, but he said such actions will not stop efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.

"Ultimately, the failure of these terrorists is inevitable," he said. "Let there be no doubt about that. They will fail because the ideology they espouse is one of hatred and destruction."

Insurgents linked to the former Taleban regime claimed responsibility for the Kabul blast and promised more attacks before Afghanistan's presidential election, to be held on October 9.

In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in clashes between the U.S.-led coalition and Taleban insurgents who have vowed to oppose upcoming national elections. The radical Islamic militia says the elections are meant to ensure U.S. domination of Afghanistan.

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