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U.S. Denies Civilian Casualty Charge

A misdirected U.S. helicopter attack killed one Afghan civilian and wounded two others in a village 75 miles south of Kabul, local Afghan officials reported Thursday. U.S. military officials denied the report.

The Afghans said there were no ex-Taliban or al Qaeda targets in the area struck by the Americans late Wednesday. They also said the U.S. military had promised to check with local authorities before launching such attacks, but failed to do so in this case.

At Bagram air base, headquarters of U.S.-led coalition forces, a military spokeswoman, Capt. Christa D'Andrea, denied such an incident occurred.

"There was no bombing, there have been none injured or killed," she said. "The information is incorrect."

However, Afghans insisted that the Americans had fired on the village of Khomi Baghicha, 4 miles southwest of Zormat, in southeastern Afghanistan's Paktia province.

Meanwhile, coalition warplanes dropped four 500-pound bombs on an underground arms dump in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said. Col. Roger King, a U.S. military spokesman at Bagram Air Base, said the planes involved in Wednesday's operation were not American, but he declined to say where they were from.

He said three abandoned bunkers linked by trenches near the Afghan-Pakistan border had been targeted. Pakistan had been consulted before the raid because of the proximity to its border. The complex was filled with explosives and ammunition which ordnance experts deemed too unstable to move.

"We destroyed it with bombs because we didn't want to go in and handle it," he said.

The U.S. military has killed scores of innocent Afghans as it presses its hunt for remnants of the Taliban movement and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. An air attack in the central province of Uruzgan on July 1, in which Afghan officials said 48 civilians were killed, led Afghan authorities to demand more local clearance of U.S. military operations.

Also, in Pakistan, a gunman shouting "You are an American agent" killed a local resident at a town bazaar in a remote region where al Qaeda terrorists are believed to be at large, officials said Thursday. The shooting took place Tuesday in Wana, about 220 miles southwest of Islamabad, in a tribal region near the Afghanistan border, an Interior Ministry official said. A suspect, whose name was given as Sirajuddin, was arrested and is being questioned, officials said.

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