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Afghanistan: Karzai Endorses UN Report Conclusions On Uruzgan Attack

By Nancy-Amelia Collins

Kabul, 2 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Transitional Authority President Hamid Karzai today officially endorsed a United Nations report into last month's deadly U.S. raid on an Afghan village. Afghan officials say 48 civilians were killed in the attack, and more than 100 injured.

Speaking to reporters in the southern city of Kandahar, Karzai said the final UN report contains the truth about the fatal incident. He said a draft leaked to the press earlier this week that alleged an attempted U.S. cover-up contained what he called "misinformation."

Karzai did not specifically say what was incorrect about the preliminary report or comment directly on the contents of the second, more comprehensive report, which has not been released to the public.

The preliminary report leaked to "The Times" of London on 29 July said it had found no corroboration of U.S. claims that its aircraft had been targeted from the ground. It also alleged that coalition troops may have removed evidence from the site. The U.S. denies any attempt to cover up the bombing.

A spokesman for Karzai, Said Fazel Akbar, told RFE/RL that it would be better for everyone if the results of the UN investigation are made public soon. "But there were mistakes. Who did it? Instead of cover it up, it would be better to investigate it, to find out. This is the best way and a good way to finish the problem and get the confidence of the people and to make the people calm. Otherwise, if they will cover it up, I don't think it will help America or Afghans because this will go a long time and the people will ask about the culprit of this incident -- who [made] this mistake? -- for years and years. That is not right," Akbar said.

The U.S. has pledged aid to the Uruzgan area in the form of roads and wells and infrastructure support, but has said it is part of normal U.S. assistance to the country.

Akbar said he believes the U.S. should compensate the families of the victims in Uruzgan. "They [Americans] accepted their mistake, and if there is a mistake then [they] should be responsible for their mistake. But as I know, the Americans, they agreed and accepted to give some humanitarian assistance to the suffering families," Akbar said.

A spokesman for the United Nations in Kabul, David Singh, said the UN hopes there will be no more incidents of civilians being killed in Afghanistan. "We therefore repeat the appeal made by the special representative of the secretary-general in Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, for the United States forces to be extremely careful and hopefully to ensure that such incidents do not happen again and that the protection of civilian lives becomes a primary concern in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan," Singh said.