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U.N. revises Afghan wedding attack report

Dozens were injured in the attack, which took place during wedding celebrations
Dozens were injured in the attack, which took place during wedding celebrations  


UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A U.N. fact-finding team in Afghanistan is revising a preliminary report which, according to the Times of London, claimed the U.S. military removed evidence at the village where U.S. jets struck a wedding party on June 30.

The U.N's senior official in Afghanistan, Lakhtar Brahimi, has asked for more detail from the team to substantiate any conclusions and observations, a United Nations spokesman in New York said Monday.

The United Nations would not confirm the Times of London account of the preliminary report, but U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhart said the initial findings of the team were "leaked to the press."

The Times of London reported U.S. forces in Afghanistan removed vital evidence after reaching the site of the bombing raid in Uruzghan province. The report cited higher death and injury totals among civilians, but a U.N. statement Monday said some casualty figures in the short preliminary report were not fully documented.

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The issue of "collateral damage" remains a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan, with the fledgling government of President Hamid Karzai increasingly upset over citizens dying while coalition forces chase al Qaeda and Taliban resistance forces.

Fact-finders

Monday's U.N. statement included a call for protection of civilian lives. The U.N. office in Kabul said "the findings on the ground bear out the paramount necessity that such incidents do not recur, both from a humanitarian and political perspective."

The United Nations insisted the U.N. group that went to the village shortly after the incident was not an "investigative body"; it refers to it as a fact-finding team.

There appeared to be some confusion as to the background of the fact-finding team. The spokesman in New York said he was unclear as to the exact mandate of the mission to the village but it centered on assessing the humanitarian situation after the bombing incident.

A joint U.S. and Afghan investigation team visited the site of the bombing earlier this month.

CNN's Nic Robertson in Kabul said that as part of that probe, evidence was removed for examination. Material was turned over to the ongoing official Afghanistan investigation, he said.

The United States has denied attempting to cover-up events of that night, and insists that U.S. forces came under fire from the ground.

Any U.N. look at what happened that night stands separate from any U.S. or Afghanistan probes. The United Nations said a statement is expected Tuesday regarding its fact-finding mission to the site.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhart said the aim now is to make the report a "more responsive document."



 
 
 
 






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