KABUL, Afghanistan – Cursing the aim of U.S. pilots, distraught residents of Kabul on Sunday pulled the dust-covered bodies of women and children from the rubble of two homes shattered by an American bomb.
"This pilot was like he was blind," sobbed neighbor Haziz Ullah. "There are no military bases here — only innocent people."
Neighbors said the victims died when a U.S. bomb struck their homes at midday in the Khair Khana district in northern Kabul. An army garrison and other Taliban installations are several miles away.
Afghan officials also reported air attacks Sunday around the western city of Herat, Kandahar in the south and near front line positions southeast of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of seven dead — three women and four children — at the scene and later at the hospital where victims were taken.
Neighbors reported at least eight dead, while Dr. Izetullah at the city's Wazir Akbar Khan hospital said 13 bodies had been brought there — all apparently members of the same family.
Ranging in age from about 8 to 13, the four boys lay under bloodied sheets at the hospital, only their bare feet visible.
Izetullah wept as he pulled back the shrouds to display the lifeless bodies. Survivors wailed outside.
"We don't care about military targets, if they want to hit military targets, let them,' said Bacha Gul, who said his brother was among the victims. "But these are not terrorists."
The United States has expressed regret for any civilian deaths in its now two-week-old military campaign in Afghanistan, saying terror suspect Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies are its targets.
However, sustained attacks against the Taliban headquarters of Kandahar have driven away most of the city's 500,000 residents, according to U.N. workers and refugees.
"Now the poorest of the poor have been left in Kandahar," shopkeeper Taj Mohammed told reporters Sunday in the Pakistani border city of Quetta. He said the only people left were "those who cannot afford to leave."
Attacks in Kabul began before dawn Sunday, with planes attacking targets in the east part of the city, where the Taliban military academy and several Taliban army installations are located.
Planes returned again at midmorning, raiding the Khair Khana district, which has been attacked repeatedly over the past week.
As bulldozers cleared the rubble from the Khair Khana homes where the civilians died, another U.S. jet screeched overhead. Panicked rescuers scrambled for cover and an ambulance at the scene sped away. The aircraft left without attacking.
Residents said U.S. helicopters patrolled over Kabul throughout the night Sunday, making their first sustained appearance over the capital. They drew only slight Taliban anti-aircraft fire.
President Bush launched the air campaign Oct. 7 after the Taliban repeatedly refused to hand over bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
In New York, an opposition diplomat suggested that his government-in-exile might agree to a role for moderate Taliban figures in postwar Afghanistan.
Opposition forces hope the U.S.-led military campaign will help topple the Taliban fundamentalist regime, which seized the capital in 1996 and now holds about 90 percent of the country.
The international community is trying to help a multiethnic, coalition government take shape — one that would be acceptable to Afghanistan's Pashtun majority.
On Saturday, the U.N. envoy of the Afghan opposition, Ravan Farhadi, said a future government could include those Taliban members who had committed no crimes against Afghan civilians.
Opposition foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah dismissed the idea Saturday, saying there was no such thing as a "moderate" Taliban.