Five civilians, 27 Taliban killed in Afghanistan



Kabul: A series of firefights and a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan Tuesday left five civilians, including two women and two children, and 27 Taliban fighters dead, officials said.

Afghan and NATO forces engaged a group of Taliban militants in Bala Murgab district of western province of Badghis Tuesday morning, killing 27 Taliban fighters, including five commanders, Jalandar Shah Behnam, an army commander in the western region said.

The Afghan forces were dropped by parachutes in Joy-e-Khewaja area of the district, behind Taliban lines, he said, adding that operation lasted for several hours.

There were no deaths among the combined forces, he added.

Western Afghanistan is comparatively more peaceful than southern and eastern regions, where Taliban are most active.

Separately, four civilians and four suspected insurgents were killed in a NATO airstrike Monday in Nahr-e-Saraj district of the southern province of Helmand, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

"Insurgents were using the compound as a firing position when combined forces, unaware of the possible presence of civilians, directed air assets against it," it said.

"Later, once they were able to enter the compound, combined forces found four dead civilians - two women, an elderly man and a child - inside," the statement said.

A joint "incident assessment" by Afghan and ISAF forces was underway, it added.

In north-eastern province of Kapisa, four children were injured Tuesday during a firefight between the Taliban and NATO troops, the ISAF said in a statement. A child succumbed to his injuries later in a hospital, it said.

The military were investigating to find out that who was responsible for targeting the children, it added.

The reports about the new killings came a day after the NATO admitted that its troops had killed five civilians, including three women, during a botched night time attack February 12 in south-eastern Afghanistan.

ISAF had earlier said that the two men were armed insurgents and the women were already dead before the joint forces entered the house in Gardez city. But after the investigation the military said all the victims were civilians and killed by the NATO forces.

Afghan security forces had identified the men as civilians who were working with the government and two of the women were pregnant.

IANS