AFP. 1 February 2002. Pentagon should explain bombing of  Al-Jazeera
office in Kabul: CPJ.

Media watchdogs with the Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter
to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seeking details of the November
bombing of the Kabul office of the Al-Jazeera television network.

US military officials said US aircraft November 13 dropped two
227-kilogram (500-pound) bombs on the building housing the satellite
television channel's offices.

Al-Jazeera has said the office, sporting three satellite dishes and
clearly identifiable as a broadcast facility, was well-known to local
residents and located in a residential neighborhood, used only by its

"Some sort of weapon went awry and destroyed (Al-Jazeera) facilities,"
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley said the following day.

"If it is shown by our analysis that our weapons were at fault, we
(will) stand up and say so."

But according to CPJ, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke sent a letter
December 6 to the Qatar-based network, calling the building a "known
facility" of al-Qaeda, blamed by Washington for the September 11
attacks,  and said "there were no indications that this or any nearby
facility was used by Al-Jazeera."

No apologies or acknowledgments of responsibility were made in Clarke's
letter, which Al-Jazeera gave to CPJ; instead, she wrote the United
States "will continue to target those facilities and locations that have
military significance."

In its statement, CPJ expressed concern the US troops "either did not
take adequate measures to verify the location of the Al-Jazeera bureau
in Kabul before targeting the building or specifically bombed Al-Jazeera
because it  was considered a target of 'military significance.'"

"The Al-Jazeera bureau in Kabul was clearly a civilian object, and no
evidence has been presented to suggest that the building served any
military function," CPJ said.

"A deliberate attack on a civilian facility is prohibited under
international humanitarian law."

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Barry Stoller

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