[Reader-list] *Guardian on Cluster Bombs & *Al-Jazira TV on Injured Children

Shohini shohini at giasdl01.vsnl.net.in
Sat Oct 13 10:58:29 IST 2001

US deploys controversial weapon: Cluster bomb B-52s scour
country for troop convoys to attack

Richard Norton-Taylor

The Guardian (London)
October 12, 2001

United States aircraft are dropping cluster bombs on Afghanistan for
the first time as pilots begin to look for moving targets, including
armoured vehicles and troop convoys.

The weapons - which scatter about 150 small "bomblets" over a large
area and whose use has been condemned by the Red Cross and other hu
manitarian agencies - can be dropped by B-52 bombers.

B-52 bombers engaged in air strikes on Afghanistan are based on the
British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. "The prime focus was
garrisons, bivouac areas, maintenance sites, troop-type facilities,"
a US defence official said yesterday. The official described the
latest round of round-the-clock bombing as "substantial". US
officials hope the cluster bomb attacks on troops may persuade some
Taliban commanders to change sides.

The attacks involved about 10 B-52 and B-1 bombers, which took off
from Diego Garcia. The Pentagon said they dropped "area munitions,"
including CBU-89 Gators, which are 1,000-pound cluster bombs.

The Red Cross last year called for a ban on cluster bombs.

In a report sent to the UN it said some 30,000 unexploded bomblets
remained in Kosovo after the conflict ended. They are estimated to
have caused up to 150 casualties, including the death of two Gurkha

"Unlike anti-personnel mines, incidents involving these
sub-munitions usually result in death or injury to several people as
a result of their greater explosive power," the Red Cross said.

Cluster bombs are used to cover a broad area rather than a single
specific target. The bomblets, or "sub-munitions", contain higher
explosive than landmines and their normally brightly-coloured
casings make them attractive to children.

An internal Ministry of Defence report estimated that 60% of the 531
cluster bombs dropped by the RAF during the conflict in Kosovo
missed their in tended target or remain unaccounted for. Cluster
bombs were dropped from medium and high altitudes during the Kosovo
conflict despite official US assessments after the 1991 Gulf war
that they were likely to miss their targets.

On average, between 5% and 12% of the bomblets fail to explode,
according to UN estimates.

In its report on the lessons from Kosovo, the MoD last year
described cluster bombs as "an effective weapon against area targets
such as a group of soft-skinned military vehicles".

It added: "Nevertheless, we have learned that it would be useful to
have a capability to strike single vehicles more accurately."

October 12, 2001

Al-Jazira television broadcast pictures this morning of children seriously
injured in the United States bombing of the Afghan capital Kabul. Several
children were shown lying on hospital beds some with bandages around their
heads and limbs. One child's body was almost completely covered in
bandages while another infant was screaming in someone's arms. One child
appeared completely still and had small scars on his face. It was not
clear if this child was alive or simply weakened or unconsious. Many
parents have taken their children out of hospitals, the television said,
because there were no medications or supplies with which to treat them.

Al-Jazira also showed what appeared to be a school house destroyed by
bombing. A chalk board could be clearly seen on the inside wall of the
building. The television also showed pictures of a number of destroyed

The Al-Jazira correspondent in Kabul Taysir al-Allouni said that he had
received eyewitness reports of a mosque being destroyed in an area called
Rishkour, and more houses in another area with the loss of dozens of
lives. He said there were reports of heavy civilian casualties in two
villages outside Kabul. Al-Jazira does not have pictures of these areas
yet, but is working to obtain them he said.

Al-Allouni said that the bombing last night had been the heaviest. He
described the bombs being used by the United States as setting off
enormous explosions with fireballs lasting up to 30 seconds, and sending
enormous clouds of black smoke into the sky.

The type of bomb could not be confirmed from the ground, he said, but
referred to reports from Washington that US forces are dropping 2300kg
"bunker buster" bombs and said that the bombs used last night were bigger
than those used in the first days of the US attacks.

The Guardian also confirms that the US is now using cluster bombs (see
story below)
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