The Pentagon is struggling to contain revelations that a US gunship attacked an Afghan wedding party, killing and wounding scores of guests. Monday’s assault was the most deadly "friendly fire" incident since the US began military operations in Afghanistan last October.
Yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called US commanders to his office and demanded that they take all necessary measures to avoid any more civilian deaths. The events threaten a serious rift between US forces in Afghanistan, the new government and its population.
But more than 36 hours after the assault by a US B-52 bomber and an AC-130 gunship was launched on Uruzgan province, details still remain unclear. The Afghan foreign minister said 40 people had died, including a family of 25, and that a further 100 were wounded. But some reports say up to 120 people were killed.
According to local officials and survivors, U.S. warplanes fired on a village for more than two hours after mistaking traditional celebratory gunfire at a rural wedding for groundfire aimed at U.S. forces.
Defense officials said today they no longer believe that an errant 2,000-pound bomb from a B-52 could have caused the casualties. But they held open the possibility that a U.S. gunship was responsible. A team of US and Afghan investigators are expected to arrive in Uruzgan province today to begin an investigation.
Monday’s attack is the second widely-reported episode of civilian deaths during a U.S. military assault in the province of Uruzgan. In January, U.S. Special Forces stormed the village of Hazar Qadam, killing at least sixteen Afghans. U.S. officials later acknowledged that none of the dead or captured had been Taliban or al Qaeda members.
Well, yesterday on Democracy Now! we spoke to Masuda Sultan, an Afghan-American, about her own family’s story of devastation by US military strikes on Afghanistan. Seeking refuge from the US bombing, many members of her family escaped to the small village of Chowkar-Karez, 60 miles north of Kandahar. On October 22, Chowkar-Karez was attacked and 41 civilians were killed. Nineteen of them were members of Masuda’s family.
Today we are going to follow Masuda Sultan on her journey back to Afghanistan last December. Her journey was made into a film called "Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero," produced by Jon Alpert and Tami Alpert of Downtown Community TV.
- Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero.