A group of Americans who lost relatives in the 11 September terrorist attacks have arrived in Kabul to meet Afghans who have lost members of their own families in the US retaliatory attacks.
The trip has been arranged by a non-governmental organisation called Global Exchange, which hopes such a mission will help promote reconciliation between the two nations after America’s three-month bombing campaign.
More than 3,000 people were killed when hijacked aircraft crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania in mid-September.
Although no official figures have yet been collated, some independent bodies have estimated that as many as 4-5,000 Afghan civilians were killed in the US bombing campaign launched in October to rout out the chief terror suspect, Osama Bin Laden.
Four Americans are in Afghanistan on the three-day visit.
Among the group is Derrill Bodley, a music professor from California whose 20-year-old daughter Deora was on one of the America Airlines flight that came down in Pennsylvania.
He will meet the father of a five-year-old girl who died when an American bomb landed on a residential area of Kabul.
The group also includes Rita Lasar, a 70-year-old pensioner whose brother died in the World Trade Center, and Kelly Campbell, whose brother was killed in the Pentagon.
Meetings with several Afghan families who lost members have been arranged, as well as a visit to a Kabul hospital.
“The Afghans will see that the American citizens are not indifferent to their plight, and the Americans will get a better understanding of the tragedy of the Afghan people,” said a spokesman for Global Exchange.
As families hear of each others losses in the capital Kabul, US warplanes have kept up their bombing raids in isolated areas in the east of Afghanistan.
Although the Taleban regime was ousted from power in December, the US says it needs to destroy any surviving forces from the fundamentalist militia and from the al-Qaeda terror network.
But eyewitnesses say the campaign continues to claim civilian lives.
Fifteen were killed two days ago by a bombing raid on a village in the mountains of Zhawar, in the east of the country, according to local people.
“No one is left but the dead,” said Noorz Ali after fleeing from the region.
“There were so many bombs and rockets I couldn’t count. In my village, maybe 15 bombs fell.”