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Afghan Casualties Reported in Air Patrol-Ground Fire Exchange

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2002 – An unknown number of Afghan civilians reportedly are casualties following a coalition air patrol's response to hostile ground fire in Oruzgan Province north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

U.S. Air Force B-52 and AC-130 aircraft struck several ground targets, including anti-aircraft artillery sites that were engaging the aircraft, U.S. Central Command officials said.

A fact-finding team of U.S. military, American embassy, Afghan government officials and the media will conduct an immediate on-site assessment of the incident, according to CENTCOM officials.

The coalition patrol came under anti-aircraft fire sometime overnight and responded by dropping several bombs, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis. While at least one bomb dropped was errant, "it's unknown where that bomb fell," he said.

U.S. officials are aware of reports of civilian casualties. "It's unclear whether those casualties were the result of our errant bomb or from falling anti-aircraft artillery rounds," Davis said. U.S. forces have flown four injured civilians for medical care, he remarked.

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