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US Bombs Red Cross in Kabul, As Three Children Die in Another Attack; a Conversation Withpakistan-Based Journalist Richard Lloyd Parry

October 26, 2001

Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in yesterday’s Independent:

“Sami Ullah was asleep when it happened, and so his friends and neighbours had to tell him about the bomb that struckhis house and what it did to him and his family. How the American planes, which had been over earlier in the evening,had returned after everyone went to bed and how, instead of the Taliban base two miles away, they dropped their bombson a residential area of the town of Tarin Kot.

“Mr. Ullah’s injuries are obvious enough even now–deep cuts caused by the collapsing house and the fragment ofsomething in his belly that might be bomb shrapnel. One of his cousins was also pulled alive from the rubble but noone else was. In the 11 hours between the explosion and the moment when he finally regained consciousness, the bodiesof Mr Ullah’s wife, his four children, his parents, and five of his brothers and sisters had been lifted from therubble of their home and buried. What do you say to a stranger who tells you he has just lost every member of hisimmediate family? All you can decently do is ask questions.

“When did it happen? On Friday night or early Saturday morning. Where? In a suburb of Tarin Kot, capital of theAfghan province of Oruzgan. And why? But Mr. Ullah, who is not familiar with the phrase "collateral damage" or "justwar" does not have an answer.

“In the 19 days of the bombing campaign, many terrible things have been reported but the scenes at the Al-KhidmatAl-Hajeri hospital, where Mr. Ullah lay last night, are the most pathetic I have seen. In one ward lay a woman namedDery Gul, about 30 years old, with her 10-year-old daughter, Najimu, and a baby named Hameed Ullah. The little girlshave bruised and cut faces; the cheek of the baby is cut neatly in a T shape, as if by a knife. But to understand howlucky they were you only have to look at their mother.

“Her face is half-covered with bandages, her arm wrapped in plaster. "The bomb burned her eyes," says the doctor."The whole right side of her body is burned." The reason Ms. Gul is so battered and her daughters so lightly injured,they say, is because she cradled them."Guest:

  • Richard Lloyd Parry, correspondent for The Independent.