'Civilians killed' in Afghan battle

Officials say up to 60 civilians killed in clash with the Taliban in Uruzgan province.

    Afghan anger is rising over civilian casualties [AP]

    Major John Thomas, A Nato spokesman in Kabul, said he knew that a large number of "insurgents" were killed but said he was aware of only 11 civilians being wounded.
     
    Nato also said one of its soldiers, a Dutch national, was killed and three wounded.
     
    One wounded man at the main Uruzgan hospital told the Associated Press that 18 members of his family had been killed.
     
    The casualties come amid rising anger in Afghanistan over civilian deaths caused by foreign troops.
     
    Taliban push
     
    Fighting continued on Tuesday, and some officials reported there had been dozens of civilian casualties.
     
    Late on Monday, Taliban had occupied Miya Nishin district in neighbouring Kandahar province, Esmatullah Alizai, the provincial police chief, said.
     
    Authorities were planning an operation to retake the remote area, he said.
     
    The Taliban push in the south appears to be the biggest offensive of the year and marks a change in tactics.
     
    UN investigation
     
    On Sunday, seven Afghan were killed during a US-led multinational-force air strike against a suspected al-Qaeda safehouse in eastern Afghanistan that also left several fighters dead.
     
    The White House described the incident as a "tragedy" but also accused the fighters of using human shields.
     
    The UN said it sent a team to investigate the incident in the Zarghun Shah district of Paktika province, about 180km south of Kabul.
     
    Foreign troops have killed more than 120 civilians in Afghanistan in recent months, reports say.
     
    The deaths have sparked street protests calling for resignation of the president, Hamid Karzai, and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
     
    US forces make up the bulk of the more than 50,000 foreign troops operating in the country.
     
    Faced with an increase in Taliban attacks, growing frustration over corruption and lack of economic development, Karzai has warned that civilian deaths would have dangerous consequences for his government and the troops.
     
    Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan over the past 17 months. About 1,500 of them have been civilians.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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