Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD


Pentagon: Afghan village a 'legitimate target'

Survivors deny that the village had any military targets
Survivors deny that the village had any military targets  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military officials say an Afghan village hit by American aircraft more than a week ago was a "Taliban encampment" providing support to the al Qaeda terrorist network and was therefore a "fully legitimate target".

"We hit what we wanted to hit," a Pentagon official speaking on the condition of anonymity told CNN.

The official said the village of Chowkar-Karez, approximately 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, had been "positively identified as a Taliban encampment including al Qaeda collaborators."

"The people there are dead because we wanted them dead," the official said.

The village was attacked about 2330 local time on October 22 with torrents of withering fire from an AC-130 aerial gunship, known in the military as "Spooky."

Earlier the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch released a statement saying it had reports detailing "25 civilians killed in the village".

However, Pentagon officials take issue with the term "civilians" in the context of the military action in Afghanistan saying members of the Taliban and al Qaeda often do not wear uniforms.

Chowkar-Karez, they say, provided support and refuge to terrorists.

Taliban authorities have said that between 90 and 100 civilians were killed in the U.S. attack.

CNN's Nic Robertson has not been able to verify the Talban's statements on casualties but was allowed to visit the ruins of the village which had been virtually leveled by the attack.

As with all assignments in Afghanistan he was accompanied by a Taliban guide and other officials, although he says his reports are not usually censored.

Fleeing Kandahar

The Taliban say up to 100 died in the attack
The Taliban say up to 100 died in the attack  

A mullah from the village told the reporters that the bombing came soon after a convoy of people afraid of the continued bombing raids over Kandahar arrived in the town seeking sanctuary.

The Taliban officials accompanying Robertson and other reporters said the village had no military function, and counted only civilians among its residents.

Survivors said the bombing was carried out not only by jets, but also by helicopters. All of them denied the Pentagon's assertion that the village was a base for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Robertson said the village's 15 houses had been destroyed, and the rubble contained no articles of obvious military value.

Instead, he said, boxes of soap, children's shoes, women's clothing and other domestic articles lay among the destruction.

Among the wreckage were fragments of missiles, bombs and shrapnel.

-- CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante in Washington and Nic Robertson in Kandahar, Afghanistan contributed to this report


See related sites about World
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



Back to the top