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Chicago Indymedia

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Death From Above Devastates Simple Afghan Village

REUTERS wire: KHORUM, Afghanistan (news - web sites) (Reuters) - There aren't many witnesses to say what happened to Khorum village in eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday night. There aren't many survivors.
One thing is clear, however, the simple collection of mud huts and livestock pens around 60 km (38 miles) from Jalalabad was hit by a devastating firestorm.

Taliban officials say Khorum was flattened in an air raid by U.S. warplanes and as many as 200 people may have been killed.

``I ask America not to kill us,'' said resident Hussain Khan, who said he lost four children in the raid and survived only by racing out of the house when he first heard a plane overhead.

Officials say 160 bodies have already been pulled from the rubble, and villagers from neighboring hamlets were still scrambling around looking for more Sunday when a group of reporters accompanied by Taliban officials toured the area from Pakistan.

Angry protesters greeted the foreign visitors.

The reporters were besieged by more than 100 students from a nearby Islamic school chanting ``Down with America,'' ``Long Live Islam'' and ``We are ready for Jihad (holy war).''

It was not easy to tell if the protest was spontaneous or orchestrated, but it was clear their feelings were genuine.

Washington has so far not commented on the report, although Pentagon (news - web sites) officials have said at least one of its bombs had missed its target, but that was near Kabul, since air raids in pursuit of Saudi-born fugitive Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) began last week.

An officer aboard the USS Carl Vinson, from where many of the planes that are bombing Afghanistan have been launched, said the 2,000 pound bomb that went astray would cause ``a significant emotional event for anyone within a square mile.''

Whatever flattened Khorum certainly had that effect.


Villagers sifting through the rubble of houses pulverised by the attack from the sky downed their tools and chanted ``Down with America'' at the sight of foreigners.

One old man deferentially removed his turban as he spoke.

``We are poor people, don't hit us,'' he said. ``We have nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. We are innocent people.''

Villagers said around 20 to 25 bombs or missiles rained on the area in two waves of attacks.

``I lost my four daughters, my son and my wife in this attack,'' said a distraught Toray, a farmer who was out of his house when the bombs struck.

He held up a piece of shrapnel with the words ``fin guided bomb'' stenciled on it -- virtually all he recovered from the debris of his flattened home.

The stench of death enveloped the village.

In the rubble of one house, the remains of an arm stuck out from beneath a pile of bricks and a leg had been uncovered nearby. There was also a bloodstained pillow.

The carcasses of livestock -- by which many Afghan farmers measure their family's wealth -- lay bloated in the surrounding fields, attracting swarms of buzzing flies.

There were some unanswered questions, however.

Reporters saw only a dozen or so freshly dug graves that officials said included the bodies of children killed in the raid.

What happened to the other bodies officials say they have recovered is unclear, but Muslims generally strictly observe Koranic requirements that the dead are buried before the next sunset.

Many training bases operated by bin Laden's al Qaeda network were known to have previously been situated around Jalalabad, although residents of the Khorum area insisted there were none there now.

``There are no military bases in this village,'' said Gul Mohammad. ``Where is Osama? He is not here, so why we are being bombed?''



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