Cluster bombs dropped by US military aircraft over civilian areas have caused their first victims, according to the UNO spokesperson in Islamabad, confirmed by the Pentagon.
Stephanie Bunker, spokesperson of the United Nations mission in Islamabad, declared on October 25th that eight civilians were killed last Monday when cluster bombs were dropped on the city of Heart, in western Afghanistan. Another died later from shrapnel wounds. The Pentagon has confirmed that cluster bombs were used in the region at the time.
TalIban sources announced that cluster bombs were also deployed on Kabul, Keshende and Dara-i-Sharif, however these reports have not been confirmed. Cluster bombs explode over their target sending hundreds of miniature bombs over a wide area. These bombs wait until they are activated by human activity and are reported to have the form of a Coca-Cola bottle.
Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance opposition to the Taleban states that the effects from the air campaign so far are disappointing and have not made any impact on the Taliban regime. The Taliban are said to have hidden the majority of their military hardware in underground caves and in Mosques, while its troops are billeted in civilian areas.
Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister of the exiled Afghan government, declared that “until now, there is a growing feeling of frustration due to the scarce results of the attacks."
This will force the strategists behind the air campaign to continue the air strikes into Ramadan, which begins on November 15th and which could potentially inflame the Islamic world, especially if there are more civilian casualties. The Taliban claim that to date 1,000 civilians have been killed in the air strikes and have appealed to the Islamic Conference to meet and to send a committee to prove the validity of their claims.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL