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22 Afghan civilians ‘killed’ in US air-raids

The Nuristan province’s governor said 22 civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed in US air-raids.
AP | By HT Correspondent, Kabul
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2008 09:27 PM IST

The US military said airstrikes by its attack helicopters hit two vehicles carrying insurgents in eastern Afghanistan. The province’s governor said 22 civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition said on Friday the airstrikes in Nuristan province hit militants who earlier attacked a US military base with mortars. The helicopters identified the militants’ firing positions, tracked them down and destroyed the vehicles they were travelling in, said 1st Lt Nathan Perry.

“These were combatants. These were people who were firing on us,” Perry said. “We have no reports of noncombatant injuries.” He gave no account of casualties in the vehicles.

Nuristan’s governor Tamim Nuristani said, however, 22 civilians were killed in the Waygal district of Nuristan province.

“Yesterday afternoon, two civilian vehicles were hit by airstrikes,” Nuristani said over the phone.

Among those killed were a woman and a child. All 22 dead bodies were brought to a provincial hospital, Nuristani said. Seven other people were wounded.

“Last night, the opposition fired rockets at the (US) base and today this incident happened,” said Nuristani, speaking from Kabul.

The military base is nine kilometres away from the place where the airstrike happened, Nuristani said.

It was impossible to independently verify any of the claims because of the remoteness of the area.

Meanwhile in Kandahar, gunmen assassinated an Afghan lawmaker, while a roadside bomb militants were planting detonated prematurely, killing 10 Taliban, officials said on Saturday.

The gunmen killed parliament member and former military commander Habibullah Jan after he visited an Afghan army compound in the Zhari district of Kandahar late Friday, said Kandahar provincial council member Bismillih Afghanmul.

Zhari is a volatile part of Kandahar contested heavily by militants and Canadian forces over the last two years. Taliban fighters have frequently targeted Afghan officials, but Jan’s death was the first of a parliamentarian in months.

In neighbouring Helmand province, militants planting a roadside bomb detonated the device prematurely, killing 10 Taliban, said police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

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