US air strikes hit Taliban troops hiding in residential areas: UN
ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 (AFP) - The United Nations on Tuesday said the US was bombing residential areas in Kabul but accused the Taliban militia of being partly to blame because it was hiding troops among those civilian districts.
The UN also revealed US air strikes had destroyed a military hospital in the western city of Herat but gave no indication why the medical facility was struck.
The UN reports came as the Taliban claimed the civilian death toll from the 16-day military onslaught on Afghanistan was steadily rising.
UN spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said the Taliban had moved forces into residential areas of Kabul, the Afghan capital, which appeared to be a reason for US air strikes there.
"Reports are indicating that several bombs have hit residential areas in Khair Khana close to health and feeding centres," Bunker told a press conference in Islamabad.
"In addition a residential area called Macroyan has been hit.
"Residential areas and some villages around Kabul are becoming more dangerous because Taliban troops are moving into those areas."
Macroyan is one of the relatively luxurious areas of the war-ravaged city. The Soviet Union built many apartment blocks there during its 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan.
Civilian deaths in both Khair Khana and Macroyan had already been independently confirmed by local people.
At least 10 people, nine of them from the same family, died when a stray bomb struck a neighbourhood of Khair Khana on Sunday. Victims in Macroyan have included a seven-year-old girl.
AFP has been able to confirm, through talking to witnesses, the deaths of at least 21 civilians in residential areas of Kabul.
The Taliban says more than 1,000 civilians have been killed around the country during the air assault.
The regime said Tuesday the latest victims included 52 civilians from a village near the southern city of Kandahar overnight and an unknown number of people in a mosque in Herat.
It is impossible to independently verify the Taliban's claims because the regime has banned almost all foreign aid workers and media from entering Afghanistan.
Bunker said the UN was able to confirm through its local workers that a military hospital in Herat was destroyed during a US air raid but it had no reports of casualties.
"Our information that we received late this afternoon was that a hospital in Herat was hit and it was reportedly destroyed," Bunker said.
The United States also admitted Tuesday that a missile had gone off target in an attack on the western city.
"It was a military hospital in a military compound on the outskirts of the city," Bunker said, adding it was believed the bomb fell on Monday on the eastern outskirts of the city. Casualties were not known, she said.
Taliban officials have claimed that more than 100 people were killed -- including doctors, nurses and patients -- when a hospital in Herat was bombed on Monday.
On Sunday, the militia said an empty military hospital in Herat also had been blown up.
The US airstrikes on the Taliban are in retaliation for the militia's refusal to hand over alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 suicide hijackings in New York and Washington that killed more than 5,000 people
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