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Afghan: U.S. bomb hits wedding party

Shah Wali talks with doctors about the injuries his wife, Shah Bibi, suffered in the bombing.  

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least 20 people were killed and more than 60 injured in Afghanistan when a U.S. plane dropped a bomb on a wedding party as celebrants fired into the air, an Afghan defense spokesman said Monday.

Dr. Gulbudin, the Afghan Defense Ministry's chief of staff, said the information came from Afghan defense officials in the central province of Uruzgan. He said the death toll was between 20 and 30.

The Pentagon did not confirm the number of casualties but did say a U.S. aircraft providing ground support to Special Forces dropped an "errant bomb" after coming under anti-aircraft fire. A joint investigation has been launched.

Many of the wounded from the bombing in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan were taken to a nearby hospital in Kandahar. Among the wounded were a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, both of whom were said to be the only surviving members of their families.

Wedding guests were celebrating and firing up into the air just before the bomb struck, Dr. Gulbudin said.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Roger King told reporters here that a large group of Special Forces were conducting "several different operations" overnight Sunday in the area around Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan and called in close air support -- B-52 and AC-130 aircraft -- when they were fired upon.

CNN's Nic Robertson provides details on the incident (July 1)

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The aircraft were "engaged by anti-aircraft fire from the ground" by what were described as "anti-aircraft guns, heavy weapons." The planes returned fire, including dropping bombs, he said.

"We understand that there was some civilian casualties during the operation. We do not yet know how many casualties or how they occurred," King said.

"I know that there were bombs dropped by B-52s on one location, which was not near the town. There was also some air support from an AC-130 gunship. There may have been other aircraft involved, but I don't have the specifics on that."

He said four of the wounded civilians were evacuated by U.S. forces to a medical facility for treatment.

King said it was unclear how the incident would affect the overall effort in Afghanistan. "Anytime there are inadvertent casualties, it increases the difficulty of operations, because we have to work with the civilian populace to be successful," he said.

The U.S. Central Command released a statement saying "close air support from U.S. Air Force B-52 and AC-130 aircraft struck several ground targets, including ant-aircraft artillery sites that were engaging the aircraft."

U.S. Central Command said a fact-finding team made up of representatives from the U.S. military, the Afghan government, the U.S. Embassy and news media would "conduct an immediate on-site assessment of the incident."

A spokesman offered deepest sympathies on behalf of the U.S. government.




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