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120 Afghan civilians, Taliban killed

120 Afghan civilians and Taliban fighters are killed in a coalition aerial strike following an ambush on Afghan and US forces.

world Updated: Jul 01, 2007 02:20 IST

Over 120 Afghan civilians and Taliban fighters were killed in a coalition aerial strike following an ambush on Afghan and US forces in the country's south, officials said on Saturday.

The strike took place on Friday night in Gerishk district of southern Helmand province after militants blew up two coalition vehicles, said Haji Dur Alishah, mayor of Gerishk district, appointed by provincial authorities to investigate the incident.

"Two US military vehicles were blown up by mines in Kakalran area of Gerishk district on Friday afternoon and militants then opened fire on the forces," Alishah told DPA.

"The coalition forces then bombed the village between 10.00 pm (1730 GMT) and 12.00 pm (1930 GMT) and killed between 120 to 130 civilians and armed men," he said, adding the officials that he had sent to the area to investigate the case reported that several children and women were among the dead.

Five houses were completely destroyed in the bombardment, he said, adding: "Local villagers were so angry that they did not let our investigating team really find out the number of civilians casualties."

Provincial police chief Mohammad Hassain Andewal also confirmed the incident, but could not give any exact number of civilians or Taliban extremists killed in the clash other than saying "police reports say that several civilians including women and children were killed."

Colonel Maria Carl, spokesperson for NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed that civilians were killed in the incident.