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Afghanistan probes civilian deaths claim: ministry

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Mon Apr 7, 5:52 AM ET

KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan authorities said Monday they were investigating claims by provincial officials that up to 33 civilians were killed in a weekend offensive by US-led troops.

The defence ministry said it could not confirm that civilians were killed in the raids by US and Afghan forces in the eastern province of Nuristan, a known stronghold of Taliban-led militants.

The US-led coalition had earlier reported “significant” insurgent casualties during the operation.

Mohammad Aleem, Nuristan deputy governor, told AFP that 33 civilians, including women and children, were killed and dozens more injured in the day-long operation in the mountainous province’s Do’aab district.

District chief Qari Daud put the death toll at 28, all of them civilians.

The defence ministry said in a statement that reports from the area “indicate that non-civilians were hurt during that operation.” On Sunday, it had reported “heavy” militant casualties.

“The defence ministry has however tasked the relevant officials to launch a thorough investigation into the claims suggesting civilian casualties,” the statement added.

Chief ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi told AFP that “the investigation has been already launched.”

Daud, the district chief, said eight other civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, were captured during the operation. The defence ministry also said eight people were captured but alleged they were rebels.

The ministry’s statement said the operation was called off after the villages “were cleared of the enemy.” It said “the enemy suffered heavy casualties” without providing an exact toll.

One soldier was killed and eight others were injured, the ministry’s statement said. 

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Written by afghandevnews

April 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm

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