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CIA pays victims of commando raid

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A CIA spokesman acknowledged Wednesday that the agency paid the families of Afghans killed in a U.S. special operations raid last month north of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Fifteen people were killed in the January 24 raid. Immediately afterward, Afghans claimed the U.S. soldiers had made a mistake and the suspected terrorist compound they attacked did not contain hostile forces.

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The CIA official who spoke with CNN said the agency did not participate in the raid, but that local operatives made the payments as part of an effort to maintain friendly relations with the community.

The money was given to authorities with Afghanistan's interim government, who in turn distributed the money.

Twenty-seven detainees captured in the raid were released Wednesday after U.S. authorities concluded none was a member of the Taliban or al Qaeda, military sources said.

Capt. Tony Rivers, a U.S. Army spokesman in Kandahar, confirmed the detainees were released shortly after 5 p.m. to Afghan authorities.

Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai told The Washington Post newspaper during an interview Monday that the raid in the village of Hazar Qadam was "a mistake of sorts" that came about because of "an unfortunate movement of people at the wrong time."

Karzai said U.S. officials "have immediately come to explain, immediately apologized, immediately sent representatives of their people to [offer] apology and explain."

Karzai also said he had concluded that an airstrike near the city of Khowst in December hit a convoy of "tribal elders" on their way to his inauguration in Kabul. He said the United States had been told they were Taliban.

Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, launched an investigation into last month's raid focusing on whether U.S. forces killed or captured Afghans who were friends of Karzai's administration. There is no timetable for any report from that probe.

Central Command said Monday that Franks launched the probe based on intelligence information, complaints from Karzai supporters, and feedback from U.S. commandos who led the raid.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday that U.S. commandos may have attacked friendly forces by mistake.

"The investigation has not been completed," he said. "I don't want to prejudge what the investigation will show."




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