It was just an unfortunate movement of people at the wrong time. - Hamid Karzai on 18 Afghan civilians killed by U.S. Special Forces
The United States' military forces in Afghanistan on February 5, 2002 released 27 detainees captured on January 23 during a raid on Hazer Qadam. The military released the men after determining they were not Taliban forces and were not linked to al Qaeda.

In the early morning of January 23rd, U.S soldiers attacked local men guarding two buildings, including one used as a weapons depot. The U.S. detachment killed at least 18 and took 27 prisoner. The military described the attack as a blow against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda forces. Military officials said they discovered a large cache of mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and other ammunition.

But it turns out the weapons depot was the headquarters of a local disarmament campaign and that the men killed or captured were not Taliban or al Qaeda supporters. Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the predawn raid by U.S. Special Forces that left at least 18 dead in the village as "a mistake of sorts," resulting from "an unfortunate movement of people at the wrong time."

Just days before releasing the detainees, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was unwilling to call the raid a mistake, "I don't think it was any sense on our part that we've done something wrong." But after initially defending the raid, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld later acknowledged that "friendly" forces loyal to Karzai may have been killed.

Two of the dead men had their hands bound behind their backs -- with plastic strips the U.S. military uses as handcuffs.

Local residents said that U.S. soldiers apologized and provided families of the victims $1,000 each. Families of WTC victims are expected to receive about $1.6 million each.

Sources:
www.washingtonpost.com
www.salon.com

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