Taliban and civilians hit by bombardment
AFP - 2 hours 22 minutes ago
KANDAHAR (AFP) - - Four Taliban militants were killed and at least four civilians injured on Saturday as international forces bombed two houses in southern Afghanistan after a patrol was attacked, officals said.
The air strike targeted the village of Shena Kali in the Nadali district of Helmand, a hub of Taliban fighters and the main opium production centre in the south of the country.
"This morning, armed Taliban attacked an international forces convoy and then the Taliban escaped to a house," Assadullah Shirzad, police chief of Helmand province, told AFP.
"This house was bombed and four Taliban were killed and two others wounded. The wounded Taliban are under treatment and investigation of international forces. In this bombing, four women were also wounded."
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of the incident, which had led to two deaths and six injuries, without being able to confirm if all the victims were civilians.
"ISAF forces, operating in support of an Afghan army operation, came under heavy and sustained fire from a clearly identified compound.
"After sustained contact from the enemy from numerous positions, and having exhausted all other means of extracting themselves from the area, they called for close air support.
"Two targeted air strikes were carried out as a last resort to enable the joint patrol to leave the area safely.
"An investigation is ongoing. ISAF can confirm that 2 people were killed and 6 others injured," the force said in a statement.
"These individuals were brought to an ISAF base in Nad-i-Ali after the incident. The cause and status of these casualties has yet to be established and is subject to investigation," the statement continued.
"After initial medical treatment, the four most seriously injured casualties were taken to the ISAF hospital at Camp Bastion. The two others remained at the ISAF base. Of the four taken to the ISAF hospital, two have since been detained. The two less seriously injured casualties, who stayed at the ISAF base in Nad-i-Ali, have also been detained."
But nearby villagers, contacted by AFP by telephone, said the toll was much higher.
"They bombed two houses, the one where the Taliban were hidden and another one, the house of a farmer, where nine people were killed," Mohammad Islam said.
A second villager, Abdul Satar, said 10 people, including women and children, were found dead under the debris of the house.
Foreign forces in Afghanistan regularly kill civilians in firefights or airstrikes on insurgents, provoking anger among the local population and the Afghan authorities.
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An Afghan woman walks with a child along a road overlooking Kabul on December 5, 2008. Four Taliban militants were killed and at least four civilians injured on Saturday as international forces bombed two houses in southern Afghanistan after a patrol was attacked, officals said.
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