U.S.-led air raid kills 11 in Afghanistan: doctor

GHAZNI, Afghanistan – Nine police and two civilians were killed in an air strike by U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, a provincial doctor said on Thursday, but the coalition said Taliban fighters had been killed.

The raid, which sparked protests, happened in a village outside Ghazni town to the southwest of Kabul on Wednesday night, Dr. Ismail Ibrahimzai, the head of the local public health department said.

“Nine police, including an officer, two civilians, one of them a woman, were killed in the raid,” he told Reuters.

Five police were wounded, he said, adding they were in a vehicle patrolling the area when it was hit in the air strike.

The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the attack but said several Taliban insurgents were killed in the raid involving small-arms and aerial-delivered conventional munitions.

Coalition troops arrested nine suspected insurgents and destroyed a cache of explosives, it said in a statement.

Civilian casualties fuel resentment of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged U.S. and NATO troops to do everything they can do to minimize civilian deaths.

Some 200 villagers marched toward Ghazni town to protest against the latest strike, witnesses said. They chanted slogans against Karzai’s government and U.S. troops who form the bulk of the coalition force in Afghanistan.

More than 500 civilians were killed last year in air strike or during operations by foreign troops, aid agencies and Afghan officials say.

Western forces dispute such estimates but say some civilians have been killed, mostly when the Taliban attack from civilian houses.

Separately, a soldier from the NATO-led force was killed and two were wounded when a blast hit their vehicle in southern Afghanistan, an alliance spokesman said on Thursday.

He did not identify the victims of Wednesday’s attack.

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