KABUL, Afghanistan – Enraged by an American airstrike, an Afghan governor on Friday demanded the United States hand over the Afghan men who are providing intelligence on possible Al Qaeda and Taliban hide-outs in his province.
Uruzgan Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan also warned that local residents could wage a "holy war" against the United States if another attack goes awry. He said the United States has wrongly attacked his province three times.
He blamed faulty intelligence for the attack Monday that killed scores of people attending a pre-wedding party. Many of the dead and injured were women and children, and at least 25 were all members of the same family.
Khan called the informers "spies."
"We asked the Americans to hand over the spies who gave the wrong information to them," Khan told The Associated Press by telephone. He made his request to a joint U.S.-Afghan team investigating Monday's U.S. air strike in the central Afghan province.
"Such spies give a bad name to the Americans," Khan said. "If Americans don't stop killing civilians, there will be a holy war against them in my province."
In Kabul, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah also said "it is possible that some hostile elements among the Afghans" had been providing false information to the Americans.
According to American investigators, U.S. aircraft had flown over the area repeatedly for two days before the attack and each time it was fired upon from within the walled compound in Kakarak village, where the assault early Monday morning took place. Afghans say 25 members of a single extended family were killed.
However, investigators have so far not found evidence of an anti-aircraft gun when they visited the compound, owned by close allies of President Hamid Karzai.
The U.S. military spokesman in Bagram air base north of Kabul, Col. Roger King, said investigators did find large shell casings and at least one weapon mounted on a vehicle. He refused to identify the weapon.
"We condemn this bombardment," Khan said. "It was an intentional attack on civilians. It is unfair to target a wedding party."
In Uruzgan, ordinary Afghans are "furious" with the Americans, Khan said.
"Three times this province has been bombarded by Americans," Khan said. "Once our troops were collecting weapons and they killed 18 people."
In one incident in January in Uruzgan, U.S. forces killed 16 people and captured 27 — none of whom turned out to be Al Qaeda or Taliban.
"This has to stop, or people will fight Americans just like they did Russians" in the 1980s, when the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Khan said. U.S.-backed Islamic insurgents battled the Red Army for 10 years until they eventually withdrew.