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'64 civilians killed in US-led strike'

US-led air strikes a week ago killed 64 civilians including women and children, says the heads of separate investigation teams.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Jalalabad
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2008 10:31 PM IST

Official investigations have found that US-led air strikes a week ago killed 64 people, most of them women and children, the heads of separate investigation teams said on Friday.

The US-led coalition has denied killing civilians in the strikes on July 4 and July 6 in remote, mountainous areas near the border with Pakistan but said it was looking into the allegations. It says only militants were killed.

President Hamid Karzai appointed high-level teams to investigate the claims, which have attracted criticism from the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Afghan parliament.

The team that looked into Sunday's strike in the remote Deh Bala district of Nangarhar told AFP they were shown the bloodied clothes of women and children killed in the strike that hit a wedding party and turned left buidings into rubble.

"We found that 47 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the air strikes and another nine were wounded, said the head of the mission, Burhanullah Shinwari.

"They were all civilians and had no links with Taliban or AlQaeda," said Shinwari, who is also the deputy speaker of Afghanistan's senate. Around 10 people were missing and believed to be still under rubble, he said.

"A separate investigation into today's strike in the northeastern province of Nuristan had found that 17 civilians were killed there", said General Mohammad Amin, a defence ministry official who headed the team.

"We found that in the bombing 17 people were killed and nine were wounded, Amin said. "They are all civilians."

The relatives of some of the victims were paid compensation, Amin said, warning the killings could see a backlash against the government and the international troops helping it to fight an extremist insurgency.

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