In memory of
Noor Mohammed’s 5 family members (including his wife, 2 sons, 2 daughters)
Abdul Ghafur’s wife, brother and sister
Saif Ullah’s entire family
died at about 9:30 A.M. on December 1, 2001
on a dirt road leading out of Mohammed Khan Kalacha, a small farming community of six adobe houses and 116 people, located 20 kms southwest of Kandahar.
Reporting for Canadian Press, Stephen Thorne wrote about the U.S. attack,
"it was the 15th day of Ramadan....when American aircraft rained seeds of despair on this tiny agricultural village south of Kandahar. They came at night like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind, yellow cluster bombs about the size of pop cans drifting down beneath little parachutes onto the clay buildings, the fields surrounding them, the orchards beside them. The villagers ran from their homes, but the high clay walls that keep out the dry desert winds couldn't stop the blasts, intended for a Taliban compound about half a kilometer up a narrow dirt road in an area speckled with destroyed tanks and equipment."
Torily, age 30, remembered
"we were asleep when the first bomb landed behind the house and blew the doors off....there was a huge noise, the walls were shaking and the children were crying. My wife yelled that we have to get away from this place."
The family along with other villagers fled to the grape vineyards behind the village. Residents said 4-6 bombs exploded that night. They could offer no reason why their village had been hit. The bombs left many unexploded yellow canisters littering the vineyard and pomegranate orchard. No one was killed in the nighttime attack. The following morning, the villagers saw fifty yellow BLU-97 cluster bomblets.
The next morning, Abdul Ghafur, a scholar at the village mosque, and Noor Mohammed, 57, another villager, collected Ghafur's tractor and trailer, loaded it with personal belongings, and their families. They selected Mohammed's 23-year-old son, Hazrat, to drive the group to his grandfather's home in a village about 15 kms. east. The tractor, trailer and families pulled away at 7 A.M..
About 9 A.M., the tractor was slowly rumbling along over a rutted sand road in the middle of a flat, desolate expanse of barren desert. The sun shown brightly. A plane suddenly appeared from behind and flew over at a fairly high altitude on the morning of December 1st. It turned, dropped lower, and dropped a bomb that landed 15 feet from the trailer. Rahmatullah, 10, a survivor, explained
"the plane was black and circled around in front of us and then came back. I didn't see anything - there was just a huge explosion. I didn't realize what had happened." He drew his finger across his throat, continuing
"my mother's head was cut off. It was like a slaughter. My sister was killed and the trailer was full blood...an airplane was still around, and I got scared and ran away and hid under a bridge [about 2 kms away]."
Ghafur who was walking the cows 3 kms. behind the tractor was alerted that his tractor had been bombed. He borrowed a vehicle and raced to the scene,
"it was a mess. Some were missing their heads, some their hands. My brother's stomach was sliced open."
Ghafur, the village scholar, collected the dead in a car and the seriously injured in another borrowed vehicle. He took the bodies to the cemetery. Noor Mohammed's wife, two sons and two daughters, and three other Afghan civilians died in the tractor attack. 12 persons survived. The bombing site is now marked by a grave where residents of Khan Kalatcha returned to bury body parts and bloodied clothes that had been strewn across the desolate space.
Thorne notes that 9 villagers were killed, including the entire family of three year-old Saif Ullah
"who now wanders the village shoeless, grimy from the constant dust, fearful of the horrors that now haunt him. Five other villagers were injured."
Later, villagers tried to show the injuries that 7-year-old Rahmat Ullah suffered during the U.S. bombing campaign against the Taliban regime in the village of Haji Mohammad Khan Kalacha, Afghanistan near the Kandahar airport on Friday, Jan. 25, 2002. Due to its proximity to the airport, this village was hit during U.S. bombing raids and dozens of unexploded bombs remain in the fields. Rahmat Ullah was in a tractor when they were bombed and six people were killed. Marine Major Ralph Mills, a spokesperson for the U.S Central Command in Tampa, said in late November that Pentagon bomb damage assessment analysts had reviewed data on the December 1st air strike and concluded that a military target had been hit. Mills said "we struck our intended target on that particular day." In a gesture so typical of the 'American way', five months later, a member of the U.S. Army's Tactical Psychological Operations Team 913 out of Fort Bragg [N.C.] was photographed handing out candy to the children of Haji Mohammad, near Kandahar airport.
They came at night like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.
A U.S “precision” air strike upon a farmer’s tractor