Eastern Afghan tribal chiefs meet
JALALABAD, Afghanistan (CNN) -- About 300 Afghan tribal chiefs from eastern Afghanistan released a statement Monday that covers a wide range of issues, including the meetings in Germany of Afghan factions, U.S. bombing raids near Tora Bora, and the education of women.
The tribal chiefs from Nangahar province backed last week's decision by Pashtun leader Haji Abdul Qadir to walk out of talks in Koenigswinter, Germany, held to establish a transitional government for a post-Taliban Afghanistan.
Qadir left the Northern Alliance delegation at the talks to protest what he saw as Pashtun underrepresentation at the conference.
In addition, the tribal chiefs condemned U.S. airstrikes on al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds near Tora Bora, about 15 miles south of Jalalabad, the cave complex where the United States believes Osama bin Laden may be hiding.
Residents of a village called Agom said civilians had been injured, and CNN's Brent Sadler saw five dead bodies Sunday, although authorities said eight people were killed and other reports Monday have put the death toll as high as 60.
According to U.S. Central Command, no civilian areas were being targeted, but spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Compton said in a statement Sunday, "We are sure we are hitting these targets and we can account for all munitions. Al Qaeda and Taliban members who choose to bring innocent civilians/family members into these complexes put these non-combatants at risk."
The tribal chiefs called on the United States to stop the bombings and the members of al Qaeda to leave the area. The chiefs said they were prepared to fight al Qaeda members and drive them out.
On a separate issue, the tribal leaders voiced support for the education of Afghan women, saying both men and women are equal under Islam.
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