Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Offers Aid to Bombed Village

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- A top U.S. commander has returned from a visit to an Afghan village that was mistakenly bombed by U.S. aircraft last week, pledging humanitarian help and a beefed-up military presence to prevent any more such accidents.

General Dan K. McNeill, head of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, met the governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Mohammed Khan, on Sunday and accompanied him to Deh Rawud village, where the bombing took place.

The Afghan government said 48 people were killed and 117 wounded when a U.S. B-52 bomber was thought to have mistakenly dropped a 900-kilogram bomb on the wedding party.

Pentagon officials have suggested that an AC-130 warplane could also have mistaken rifle shots -- fired in the air during festivities in a traditional Afghan ritual -- as anti-aircraft fire and responded with its cannons.

"If there were casualties and injured innocents, they know that was not our intention," McNeill said during his visit.

McNeill, guarded by a formidable contingent of U.S. and Afghan troops, visited village elder Abdul Rahim in his mud compound in Deh Rawud and sat cross-legged on a woven plastic mat, sipping orange soda, as they chatted.

The meeting was convivial and upbeat, and no direct mention was made of the bombing.

The discussion instead focused on how McNeill's forces could help in an area where U.S. officials have grudgingly admitted that innocent lives could have been lost in last week's incident.

"Our hospitals are not in good shape, our schools are not in good shape, everything is destroyed," Rahim said. "Twenty-three years of war have destroyed everything here."

McNeill suggested that U.S. forces could help the village build a much-needed bridge in the area as a starting point.

He said his trip to Deh Rawud was intended partly to help compensate victims of last week's air strike.

"But the truth is, I had planned to come and meet with governor Jan Mohammed for some time," he added.

"They had asked us if we would put some [U.S. soldiers] here, who would stay here, and we're thinking that that's probably in our best interests," he added.

Rahim said he welcomed a greater U.S. presence in the area. "You are welcome here always, " he told McNeill. "Now, today and in the future."

 Afghanistan appealed to the International Security Assistance Force on Monday to help investigate the slaying of one of the country's top leaders, as officials admitted they had no idea why he was assassinated.

A dozen people detained in connection with Saturday's murder of Vice President and Public Works Minister Haji Abdul Qadir will be handed over to the Turkish-led force, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

The decision came during Monday's Cabinet meeting, chief spokesman Sayed Fazl Akbar said.

"The intention is to have a completely neutral, fair, quick and professional investigation for prompt identification of the culprits," he said.