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Kabul Bombing Targeted Innocents; TV Cameraman Dies in Helo Crash

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2002 -- Yesterday's deadly bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, was a deplorable, deliberate act that targeted innocents to spread terror, a senior Pentagon spokesperson said here today.

"We want to express our condolences and sympathies to the people who were victims," Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told Pentagon reporters.

She called the bombing, which killed at least 10 Afghans and wounded scores more, a deplorable act that deliberately targeted innocent civilians -- "men, women and children who were just going about their daily business."

The purpose of the bombing, Clarke continued, was to spread "carnage, instability and terror" to undermine the efforts of the Afghan people and their government in rebuilding the war-stricken country and establishing a free, democratic society to live and worship in peace and security.

While U.S. officials don't yet know exactly who was responsible for the bombing, Clarke said, there are likely suspects.

"We do know that there are Taliban remnants, as well as al Qaeda, who have been plotting these sorts of attacks," she said. "These are exactly the sorts of tactics that we associate with those organizations."

No Americans were injured or killed in the Kabul bombing, said Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., Clarke's briefing partner. Rosa told reporters two bombs actually went off in Kabul, a small explosion first, then a much larger bomb.

The general confirmed that a U.S. Special Forces soldier on security detail was slightly hurt yesterday morning while helping to protect Afghan President Hamid Karzai during an assassination attempt in Kandahar. A man wearing the uniform of the new Afghan National Army fired shots into Karzai's car. Rosa said three people, including the assailant, were killed.

Karzai was unhurt, but Kandahar Province Gov. Shirzai, riding with him, was wounded. Clarke noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wanted to pass along to reporters that the U.S. security team did an excellent job protecting Karzai.

Rosa, Joint Staff deputy director for current operations, reported a civilian television cameraman from KCBS-Los Angeles died this morning in the crash of a Navy SH-60B helicopterin the North Arabian Sea about 80 miles from the Iranian coast. The aircraft's four Navy crew members survived.

"Our condolences go out to his family," the general said.

He said the helicopter, assigned to the cruiser USS Mobile Bay, had been hovering over a Syrian-flagged vessel to observe a maritime health inspection boarding when its rotor blades hit the ship's mast.

Clarke emphasized that despite the Sept. 5 bombings and murder attempt, Afghanistan remains "a much more stable and secure place" than it was this time last year. She added that Afghan leaders attest to that assessment.

However, "there will be problems for some time," she acknowledged. "You don't take a country that has gone through what Afghanistan has gone through for the last 20 or 30 years and expect everything to be perfect in the short run."

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