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Taliban accuse U.S. of 'genocide'

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, left, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan accused the U.S. of "genocide."  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Accusing the United States of "genocide" the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan said Monday that U.S. aircraft had bombed a hospital in the western city of Herat, killing up to 100 people.

"It is now clear that America plans on intentionally targeting the Afghan people," Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan said Monday.

He said the dead in Herat included doctors, nurses as well as patients.

Eighteen others were killed when U.S. planes struck two clinics and shops in other parts of the country, "located far from military places," he added.

Neither claim could be independently verified.

Speaking to reporters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Zaeef said the killing of civilians was a terrorist act on par with the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

"[The] Bush administration is annoying the souls of those killed in New York by killing innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan," he said.

"In attacking our country on mere suspicions, [the] CIA and FBI have escaped their failure to find the real culprit by putting the blame squarely on Afghanistan without any evidence."

The Pentagon said it would investigate the Taliban's claims.


Zaeef said 1,000 Afghans had been killed in the U.S.-led airstrikes since they began more than two weeks ago.

But he added: "We are telling the Bush administration that you will never be able to break the will and determination of the Afghans," Zaeef said. "This is a nation that loves independence and faith more than its life."

"The goal is to punish the Afghan nation for having chosen an Islamic system," the envoy added.

"America is using, against the Afghan people, sophisticated and destructive weapons that have never been used before in any war."

Earlier Monday in Kandahar, the Taliban showed CNN and other news organizations parts of what they said were two U.S. helicopters that were shot down.

Zaeef did not present any new evidence to back Taliban claims that it shot down two U.S. helicopters, but simply repeated the craft had been downed.

The Pentagon has vehemently denied losing any aircraft.

Landing gear

The parts provided for the TV crew were primarily landing gear with markings in English. Boeing and Loud Engineering could be read on one piece of the gear.

The CNN crew was not taken to the alleged crash site.

When asked what happened to the remains of those who may have been aboard the helicopter, Zaeef said he did not know but said the soldiers were dead.

U.S. weaponry has been used in various Afghanistan conflicts for decades and U.S. military hardware has long been available throughout the region.

Taliban officials said the parts came from an area near one of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's compounds.

They said they could not take reporters to the crash site because they said the area was unsafe due to landmines.

Officials also said they were afraid a group of people standing out in the open would be a target for U.S.-led airstrikes.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the source of the parts shown by the Taliban.


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