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70 killed in Afghanistan raids: NATO

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 12:29 IST
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NATO's force in Afghanistan said around 70 people were killed in raids targeted at Taliban this week but it was still not sure how many were civilians after reports that scores of ordinary people died.

The International Security Assistance Force admitted in a statement late on Friday a "number of civilians were killed along with a large number of insurgents" in the October 24 air strike in Kandahar province in the south.

"ISAF believes that around 70 individuals were killed," the statement said.

"We are satisfied that we identified and targeted a group of insurgents, but it is uncertain how many civilians were among the dead. In addition, it is unclear how many of the civilians were killed as a result of insurgent fire."

Residents of the Panjwayi area have said between 60 and 85 civilians were killed in the late night bombing raid, which started on the second day of the Eid holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Some have said none of the dead were Taliban, but ISAF has said it believed 48 were militants, including from a group that attacked a base.

It has admitted that 12 of the dead were civilians, while the police put the figure at about 25 with a presidential-appointed commission and a separate ISAF and defence ministry team investigating the incident.

The latest incident, just under two weeks after 20 other civilians were reported killed in ISAF strikes in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, has added to concern about the number of locals being caught up in fighting between the Taliban and the military.

President Hamid Karzai on Friday again called for foreign troops to take more care and urged better coordination with local forces.

Karzai met NATO military commander General James Jones at the presidential palace in the capital Saturday for talks that were expected to touch on the civilian toll.

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