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Civilians killed in Helmand air strike.

Civilians were among 15 people killed and wounded in an air strike conducted by NATO-led troops in the restive southern province of Helmand, officials said on Thursday.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the air raid was conducted in Nad Ali district, where British troops came under fire from militants in the Khushal Khan village last evening.

Nick Richardson added an ISAF aircraft dropped a single precision-guided bomb on insurgents' position in the compound, from where the soldiers were twice attacked.

As a result of the air strike, he acknowledged, eight civilians -- two women and six children -- were killed and three others wounded. At least four militants were also eliminated in the bombing, he claimed.

The injured civilians were given immediate medical attention and later transported to an ISAF hospital for treatment, Richardson said.

Their injuries are not life-threatening, according to the ISAF spokesman. Separately, he continued, an important guerrilla commander named Zalmay Kochi was killed in a raid in Nahar Siraj area of Greshk district.

The commander was responsible for making bombs for suicide attackers, he added. A tribal elder, meanwhile, told Pajhwok Afghan News the ISAF aircraft struck a farmer's house in Nad Ali.

The grower's spouse and four children perished in the bombardment, Abdul Haq Helmandwal claimed.

Three guests staying at the house were also killed and a fourth sustained injuries. Wayne Shanks, an ISAF spokesman, also confirmed the latest incident of civilian casualties. "Afghanistan continues to be a dangerous place and the loss of any life is a significant loss to the families involved and our forces here," he said. During a compound search near Kandahar City, the NATO-led force said, Afghan and foreign troops came under fire. In retaliation, the joint force killed several militants.

Following the site search, the force removed multiple assault rifles, a machine gun, grenades and communication gear.

In the central Logar province, the joint force killed an armed militant when he showed hostile intent. A local civilian was also wounded during the operation in Mohammad Agha district.

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Oct 4, 2009
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