The shock of September 11 will take years for Americans to come to terms with. It was, after all, the first time since the war of 1812 that foreigners had struck at their nation's heart. But this is no reason to show a lack of compassion towards the thousands of Afghan civilians who have lost relatives in allied bombing raids. Like Americans, they are grieving and deserve more than brusque military explanations. Why President George W. Bush's administration is denying even an apology is beyond understanding. Time and again, Afghans are given the same line - that there are civilian casualties in all conflicts and such deaths cannot be avoided, even with the world's most sophisticated military equipment. An investigation is promised and sometimes conducted, but the results are never revealed. The bombing on Monday of a wedding party in southern Uruzgan province met with the same response, but this time Washington has to do more. Since the US-led war against terrorism began in Afghanistan last October, the most conservative independent estimates put the number of civilian deaths from allied attacks at between 3,100 and 3,600. Many are well documented and Afghans around the world have demanded an apology at the least, some form of compensation at the most. The Bush administration has yet to publicly respond to those calls. It has ignored demands by human and civil rights groups. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government is in a bind. Afghans want it to demand action and compensation. But it is reliant on the US to banish the remnants of the hated Taleban regime and their supporters, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, and restore security. The US is in the vanguard of providing aid to rebuild the country, which was devastated by 23 years of foreign occupation and civil war. In the interests of maintaining political stability, the US must make a prompt move. Mr Bush has to admit mistakes have been made and offer financial support to those affected. Afghans do not demand the same benefits being given to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Like those families, they also want to get on with their lives. In a poverty-stricken nation such as Afghanistan, this is still not possible. Homes and lives have been destroyed by bombs and bullets and the US is obligated to do the rebuilding.