Military

Army strongly denies charges that troops at Kandahar weren't attacked
By Ron Jensen, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Wednesday, February 20, 2002

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The U.S. Army strongly denounced charges that Americans
were not under attack last week when soldiers at Kandahar Airfield fired on people outside
the fence who shot first at them.



Maj. AC Roper said it is "absolutely appalling" that anyone would doubt the
soldiers' versions of events last Wednesday that left two soldiers wounded.



"We stand by the incident as it was stated [by the soldiers]," Roper said
Tuesday morning.



Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne
Division, had a brief firefight with a handful of unidentified people. First Lt. Darren
McDonough, a platoon leader, was grazed in the neck. Spc. Timothy Bates suffered a wound
to his finger.



The soldiers returned fire and the people outside the wire fled.



On Monday, local government officials, including the brother of the interim prime
minister, Hamid Karzai, said the American version of events was in error.



"We are 90 to 95 percent sure the incident was not an attack on Americans . . . It
was a mistake," said Maj. Naik Mohammed, an Afghan commander in Kandahar.



Ahmed Wali Karzai, the prime minister's brother and a local councilman in the
region, said, "They're not really coming under attack."



But Roper said the evidence, including sandbags torn by gunfire from outside the base,
plus the wounds, supports the soldiers' version of events.



"We're absolutely convinced that it occurred as they say," Roper said.
"There is no doubt the people outside the wire intended harm."



Since the incident, all has been quiet around the base.



"Another quiet night on our perimeter last night," Roper said Tuesday. He
added that patrols found nothing out of the ordinary.




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