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Report: Civilian casualty claims exaggerated



PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNN) -- Afghans from the eastern province of Nagrahar tell CNN that the Taliban exaggerated reports of civilian casualties in a bombed-out village they displayed to a group of international journalists Sunday.

CNN's Nic Robertson was among the journalists who traveled to Koram, about 60 miles west of the Nagrahar's provincial capital, Jalalabad.

He reported seeing villagers sift through rubble in search of loved ones and visiting 17 people in the hospital who said they were injured in the bomb blast.

Robertson said 90 percent of the village's 40-50 houses were destroyed. About 100 yards from the village, he saw an unexploded bomb stuck in a hillside.

But in Peshawar, Pakistan, CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon spoke with several Afghans attending a meeting of opponents of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

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All came to Peshawar from Nagrahar, and some said the village in question was known to house Arab fighters and ammunition dumps.

One man told MacKinnon there were definitely civilian casualties at the site, but not the 200 the Taliban claimed.

Taliban officials went Saturday to the village and told the villagers what to say to the journalists they were bringing the next day, he said.

At the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States had fired missiles at the openings of two caves being used as ammunition dumps. He said the resulting explosions lasted up to four hours.

Rumsfeld said it was likely people were killed in the attack but questioned whether they were innocent civilians.

"Let's face it," said Rumsfeld. "They weren't baking cooking in those caves."



 
 
 
 



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