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NATO strike kills civilians in Afghanistan

At least six Afghans reported killed in NATO air strike, one day after Taliban suicide bomb attack left dozens dead.

Last Modified: 04 Apr 2013 19:49
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Civilian deaths are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan where US and NATO have fought the Taliban for 11 years [AFP]

A NATO air strike has killed four Afghan police and two civilians in the central-east Ghazni province, Afghan officials have said.

A spokesman for the US-led NATO force in Kabul told the AFP news agency on Thursday that the military was checking the information.

The attack happened after Taliban insurgents attacked a local police post in eastern Ghazni province before dawn and NATO planes were called in to support the officers under attack.

"The NATO planes went there to assist the police, but the post was bombed and four police were killed. Two civilians present were also killed," Fazul Ahmad Tolwak, chief of Ghazni's Deh Yak district, told AFP.

Ghazni provincial administration spokesman Fazul Sabawoon confirmed the incident and gave a similar account.

The strike came a day after Taliban gunmen killed at least 46 people at a court complex in the western city of Farah in a bid to free insurgents standing trial.

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All nine attackers were killed in the assault, which started with a huge car bomb at the entrance to the court and continued for eight hours as security forces hunted down one final surviving assailant.

The assault came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking to Al Jazeera in Qatar, said he remained open to talks with the Taliban, but that he wanted to secure the progress his government has made.

The Farah death toll was the highest in Afghanistan from a single attack since a Shia Muslim shrine was bombed in Kabul in December 2011, killing 80 people.

Karzai condemned the court attack as a "massacre" and said Afghans would "not let such killings of Muslims by the Taliban go unpunished".

After an air strike killed 10 civilians, mostly women and children, in February, Karzai banned Afghan security forces from calling in NATO strikes.

Also Thursday, NATO reported that an American F-16 fighter jet had crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing the US pilot. The coalition did not release further details about Wednesday's crash.

"While the cause of the crash is under investigation, initial reporting indicates there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash," the coalition said in a statement.

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