Heartbroken Groom in Nangarhar
By Iqbal Sapand
03/09/08 "NBC" -- - "I thought American forces were in
Afghanistan for our security," said Attiqullah, his voice
trembling. "I could never have imagined that they would bomb my
wedding party. They killed my entire family. I will never
I sat with Attiqullah, who gives his age as
around 15, near the graves where his family members are buried.
He described what happened the day of July 6, 2008 -- his
wedding day -- when his bride, two of his brothers and a sister,
along with 45 relatives, were killed by a U.S. air strike on the
remote village of Oghaza, in Nangarhar Province in eastern
Attiqullah’s father had sent the entire
family to the bride’s house the night before the wedding
ceremony, as per Afghan custom. "The women were playing musical
instruments and everyone was singing and dancing," Attiqullah
said. "Then, according to our tradition, the entire groom’s
family must escort the bride from her house to meet the groom.
Early the next morning everyone set out on the way to my house,
walking in a kind of procession through a mountain pass. And
then, the unimaginable happened."
"It was 6:30 in the morning and there
were 300 of my relatives and friends gathered at my house
waiting for the bride to arrive," he said. Attiqullah, by now
his eyes brimming with tears, was barely audible and wanted to
appear strong in front of me. He was fighting hard not to lose
control as he told his story so he avoided my eyes and drew
circles in the mud as he answered my questions.
"I was watching the cooks cut the meats,
prepare the potatoes, and wash the rice," he continued. "This
was all for me and I felt so happy and proud. I was day-dreaming
of welcoming my bride, wondering how she would feel as she
entered my house and also how I would feel. I was counting the
minutes to her arrival."
"Then there was a loud explosion on the
top of the mountain," Attiqullah, crying, explained what
happened. "I saw balls of fire explode in the sky, the mountain
seemed to be burning. I ran from the house and started
climbing. I ran faster and faster. I could hear the cries of
children and women. And then the second explosion."
Attiqullah / NBC News
|Attiqullah prays in the graveyard
Attiqullah’s house, a simple structure
of mud, rock and wood, is built along the side of the mountain.
It took him a half hour to run up the mountain, his uncle
running with him.
"And then there was a third explosion,"
"Oh my God!" Attiqullah was now sobbing
uncontrollably. " I saw my bride and my family members; I saw
the pieces of their bodies scattered all over the place."
The U.S. military is investigating the
incident and said in a statement: "Any loss of innocent life is
"I assure you we do not target civilians
and that our forces go to great lengths to avoid civilian
casualties," U.S. military spokesman, 1st Lieutenant Nathan
An investigation by the Afghan
government concluded that 52 people died in that air attack - 45
women and children were killed. Afghan President Hamid Karzai
ordered his government to pay $2,000 for each person killed and
$1,000 to each injured person.
Attiqullah told me there was no offer of
assistance to the family from coalition forces.
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