Over 20 people killed in US-led operation in Afghanistan

April 8th, 2008 - 12:59 am ICT by admin  

Kabul, April 7 (DPA) An Afghan governor said Monday that more than 20 militants were killed in a US-led operation in eastern Afghanistan, but a regional lawmaker said the dead were all civilians, including women and children. A Taliban spokesman also claimed that their fighters had shot down five army helicopters during the same operation, a claim that the US military spokesperson rejected.

Tamim Nuristani, governor of northeastern province of Nuristan told DPA that the operation, which took place in Doaba district Sunday morning, left more than 20 insurgents killed and scores of them wounded.

Afghan and US-led coalition forces conducted the operation dubbed “Qaher Commando” (Commandos’ Anger), the Afghan defence ministry said in a statement Monday. It said one Afghan soldier was killed and eight others were wounded.

The statement said seven militants were arrested in the operation and several others were killed and wounded.

The US military said Sunday that its forces killed a “significant” number of insurgents after the rebels attacked a joint Afghan and coalition forces unit during a search operation in the area.

However, provincial council chief Ramatullah Rashed told DPA that at least 23 civilians were killed and up to 50 others were injured.

Rashid said part of Shorak village was completely destroyed in the US military bombardments.

The Afghan army denied inflicting any civilian casualties in the operation but said the ministry has set up a commission to conduct an investigation in the area.

Meanwhile Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told DPA that their fighters shot downed five US helicopters in Dawaba district

He said the attack came after the US forces bombarded the area and killed “a number of civilians including women and children”.

But US military spokeswoman Captain Kymberley Jurado at Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan, said, “no helicopter was shot down during the operation in Nuristan”.

Civilian deaths during the international operations have become a sensitive issue for the Western-backed Afghan government. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly pleaded with foreign forces in the country to avoid causing civilian deaths.

In another incident, two Afghan guards working with a private security company were killed and four others wounded when their convoy was attacked by Taliban fighters in Andar district of southern Ghazni province Sunday, district Governor Abdul Rahim Desiwal said.

More than 8,000 people were killed in the fighting last year, about one-fourth of them civilians.

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