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22 civilians killed in air strike: Afghan governor

An Afghan district governor said 22 people, most of them women and children, were killed on Sunday when US-led coalition air strikes hit a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan.

world Updated: Jul 06, 2008 21:46 IST

An Afghan district governor said 22 people, most of them women and children, were killed on Sunday when US-led coalition air strikes hit a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan, but the force insisted only militants were killed.

"I confirm that 22 people, three of them and 19 of them women and children, were killed," said Hamisha Gul, governor of Deh Bala district in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Gul said his information came from police and other officials he had dispatched to the area near the Pakistan border to investigate after reports of civilian casualties in the incident.

His claim could not be immediately confirmed with more senior Afghan officials nor independently verified as the area is remote and difficult to access.

The US-led coalition rejected the allegations.

"It was not a wedding party, there were no women or children present. We have no reports of civilian casualties," coalition media officer Captain Christian Patterson told AFP.

The coalition said in a statement earlier that "several" militants were killed in the air strike.

It was the second time in three days the coalition was accused of inflicting heavy civilian casualties in air strikes.

Afghan officials have said strikes on Friday in northeast Nuristan province, also on the border with Pakistan, killed more than a dozen civilians.