Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the government of Helmand province, said that villagers had brought 17 bodies to show the governor.
  
"Most of the bodies we saw had shrapnel wounds but at this stage we don't know if the shrapnel was from a rocket or a bomb which collapsed a house," Ahmadi said.

More deaths

He would not say how many of the bodies he saw were women and children, as the government was investigating how they were killed.
  
Residents of Nad Ali district, located east of Lashkar Gah, said an earlier air raid on Thursday killed at least 25 civilians, and they had taken the bodies of 16 to the town as "proof".
  
Assadullah Shirzad, the provincial police chief, confirmed civilians had been killed but would not give a number.
  
Residents in Nad Ali have endured weeks of heavy fighting between Taliban fighters and Afghan and international troops.

Civilian casualties in air raids are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where the government and its allies need local support in their campaign against the Taliban.
  
A group that monitors the security of non-government organisations in Afghanistan said this week it estimated that 970 civilians had been killed in Taliban-led attacks this year, and 373 in military action.