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Army Says Video May Solve Disputed Attack

July 10, 2002|From Reuters

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The U.S. Army said Tuesday that an AC-130 gunship involved in a controversial airstrike on a remote Afghan village took video footage that could shed light on the deadly incident.

The Afghan government says U.S. warplanes killed 48 people and wounded 117 early July 1 when they mistook celebratory firing at a wedding party in the central province of Oruzgan for hostile fire.

The U.S. military insists that its planes came under antiaircraft fire from the ground. It has admitted that civilians were killed and has promised a formal investigation.

"We have said we were engaged with antiaircraft artillery," Maj. Gary Tallman said. "I can tell you with certainty [that video evidence] will be used to determine if in fact we were."

The U.S. military has said that a Special Forces team on the ground called in the airstrike after pinpointing several sources of the antiaircraft fire.

However, a joint U.S.-Afghan team that visited the site of the main attack last week said it found no sign of an antiaircraft gun--although the team did collect shell casings and shrapnel that will form part of the investigation.

Tallman said the footage had been viewed by the U.S. commander, Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, and then sent to the Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said its own investigation showed that a "large number of civilians" were killed in the airstrike but that none of three villages visited by a joint U.N.-Afghan team was destroyed.

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