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Pentagon Confirms U.S. Dropped Errant Bomb in Afghanistan

Aired July 1, 2002 - 12:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news out of Bagram.

Nic Robertson joining us again. At least four people, we're told, wounded in that U.S. bombing in Southern Afghanistan.

Nic, what more can you add to what we have?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this time, we only have a few details.

It was a large coalition special forces operation that was under way northwest of Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan. It was in the province of Oruzgan, some of that operation under way near the village, town area of Tarin Kowt. Now, that large special forces operation was engaged as it was going about a number of tasks on the ground. It had a number of objectives on its mission last night. And it was engaged by fire from on the ground. They then called in close air support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. ROGER KING, BAGRAM AIR BASE: Forces were moving to conduct an operation. They came under fire. They called in close air support. Anti-aircraft fire was fired at the aircraft. And those targets were engaged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Now, the B-52 bomber that was involved in that operation, part of the close air support, did drop bombs on one of those locations. An AC-130 Spectre gunship was also part of the close air support. It was involved in protecting those special forces who were engaged by fire on the ground.

Now, the coalition forces say that four injured people were brought to them on the scene at the time by Afghans. Those four injured people were treated. Now, there will be on Tuesday in Afghanistan a joint coalition forces and Afghan inspection and an investigation into the site of bombing, into the incident late Sunday night. At the moment, details here are still very, very scant. The only numbers that we have at this time are, so far, four people injured, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, so, earlier, we were attributing Reuters Wire Service, Nic, talking about 120 people killed or wounded. Is that just way off or is there no way to tell right now?

ROBERTSON: Kyra, very difficult for us to confirm figures like that. Likely, from that area, one of the closest hospitals would have been the public hospital in Kandahar. And, likely, if there were casualties there, civilian casualties, they would likely have gone to that hospital in the center of Kandahar.

And, likely, there will be reports coming from that hospital later through the night here. And when we get those reports, we will bring them to you. But, so far, from the coalition forces here, the only information we have is four casualties, those figures being quoted from the city of Kandahar at this time. We cannot confirm those figures at this time from here, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, our Nic Robertson live from Bagram -- thanks, Nic.

All right, let's take it now to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

How is the Pentagon responding to this? Any information you can add, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, the details here at the Pentagon are very sketchy. First word only came within the last half-hour or so.

But military spokesmen here are confirming the essential details of the incident. They say there was a reconnaissance and patrol moving through this area north of Kandahar last night . They came under fire from anti-aircraft artillery. At that point, they called in close air support, aircraft that would respond and deal with that anti-aircraft artillery fire.

What a Pentagon spokesman is confirming, in his words, there was an errant bomb. Apparently, one of the bombs from one of those U.S. aircraft did go astray. The Pentagon says it is very aware of the reports of civilian casualties. What the Pentagon is now going to be looking at very closely, however, is whether those casualties were caused by this errant bomb going astray, or, as this spokesman told us, perhaps, just perhaps some of that anti-aircraft artillery fire falling back down to the ground and injuring people on the ground. It's just way too soon to say. These are all very early reports.

There are also reports from the scene, which the Pentagon says it cannot confirm at this point, that one of the targets that was struck may have actually been a wedding party in a house. But, again, we should emphasize those are reports locally from the scene. The Pentagon says it confirm that yet and it cannot yet confirm those other reports from the scene of 120 people being killed or injured. But we are also told that there are still U.S. forces in the area and it is still considered a moving and fluid situation.

So, we hope to have more word in the hours ahead -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Barbara Starr from the Pentagon -- thanks, Barbara.

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