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Red Cross Condemns U.S. Strike on Kabul Warehouse

KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Two U.S. bombs hit a warehouse of operated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the center of the Afghan capital Tuesday, prompting a furious reaction from officials who said it was clearly a civilian facility.
Rescue workers and Afghan ICRC employees raced to try to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers, but at least 35 percent of the food and other equipment stored at the facility were destroyed, witnesses and officials said.

An ICRC worker was slightly wounded by flying glass in the raid, witnesses said.

``It is definitely a civilian target. In addition to that, it is a clearly marked ICRC warehouse,'' said Robert Moni, head of the ICRC delegation in Kabul and now evacuated to Pakistan.

``It is marked on the top with a red cross. People should take all necessary measures to avoid such things,'' he said.

All aid agencies withdrew their international staff after the ruling Taliban said they could no longer guarantee their security in the face of attacks by U.S. warplanes.

The ICRC had already complained to U.S. embassy in Islamabad and the Geneva headquarters had complained formally to the U.S. mission there, he said.

``We have to evaluate the damage and how it will affect our work,'' said Macarena Aguilar, an ICRC spokeswoman in Geneva.

``Of course we regret what has happened. This was not a legitimate target.''

Another ICRC's representative told Reuters that two bombs landed on the complex.

``We have a warehouse compound with five buildings,'' said Pascal Duport, deputy head of the ICRC mission in Kabul until the organization pulled out all its foreign staff.

``One was hit by two bombs. A fire started and apparently the fire brigade got control of the fire but I can't tell you if it was stopped.

``Another building was touched by the fire but it was saved. It (the building hit) contained humanitarian assistance -- wheat, oil, blankets and so on. We think it is only partially affected.''
 
 

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