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'18 civilians killed in NATO airstrike'

world Updated: Aug 26, 2007 19:13 IST

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Residents of a province in southern Afghanistan reported on Sunday that some 18 civilians were killed and over 22 wounded in a NATO airstrike.

Meanwhile eight Taliban militants were killed and ten wounded in a separate airstrike in the same rebel-controlled town.

NATO planes bombed a house in the Musa Qala district of southern Helmand province on Saturday evening while residents were attending a wedding party, said Abdul Mannan Agha, a local resident.

Agha, who brought eight wounded civilians to the provincial hospital in Lashkargah, said that 18 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 22 wounded.

Khaliq Dad, another resident of Musa Qala, which is completely under the control of insurgents, also confirmed the number of civilian deaths and said that two hours later another house not far from the first site was hit by an airstrike, killing eight Taliban fighters and wounding ten.

Provincial police chief Mohammad Hussain Andewal could neither confirm nor deny the reports, and said a team had been assigned to go to the area to discover the facts.

A NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesperson in Kabul said that they were looking into the reports. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the area makes it very difficult to verify the claims independently.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed impatience over civilian casualties and recently lashed out at NATO forces, warning them of losing the war against Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters if civilian deaths continue to mount.