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Videos Challenge U.S. Version of Afghan Casualties

POSTED: 03:48 PM ET, 09/ 8/2008 by Derek Kravitz

UPDATE (1:33 p.m. Tuesday): The Washington Post has obtained a copy of the raw video of the Afghan casualties and posted it on its Web site.

Afghan photo
In this file photograph taken on Aug. 23, 2008, an Afghan man offers prayers beside the graves of people killed in a U.S. airstrike at Azizabad village in Herat province, east of Kabul. (Reza Shirmohammadi / AFP / Getty Images)

Two videos apparently recorded with a cell phone and obtained by several news agencies, including The New York Times and The Associated Press, show bodies of women and children after a U.S.-led attack last month that Afghan and United Nations officials say resulted in the deaths of 90 civilians.

U.S. officials had orginally said that the Aug. 22 operation in Azizabad killed some 30 militants. A review found that up to 35 militants and seven civilians were killed.

But the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan conducted its own investigation into the killings and found that tribal leaders and local residents were able to confirm the number of casualties, including names and ages of the victims

"Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men," according to a statement. "15 other villagers were wounded or otherwise injured."

Carlotta Gall, a reporter for The Times, wrote yesterday that cell phone images she saw (video) showed at least 11 dead children, "some apparently with blast and concussion injuries, among some 30 to 40 bodies laid out in the village mosque."

Afghan officials confirmed the report, saying at least 70 people, including women and children were killed in the attack, according to a statement prepared by the office of Afghanistan President Hamed Karzai.

Just last month, a U.S. military review of the airstrike in western Afghanistan maintained that only five civilians were killed, Pentagon officials said.

In response to the new findings, the NATO commander in Afghanistan proposed a joint investigation by Afghan officials, the United Nations and U.S. forces to figure out the true number, the AP reports.

By Derek Kravitz |  September 8, 2008; 3:48 PM ET
Previous: Woodward Book: Doubts About Iraq Strategy | Next: Former Hill Aide Indicted in Abramoff Scandal

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