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NATO raid blamed for Afghan civilian deaths

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Coalition denies killing 18 villagers in raid in LogarAfghanistan has been rocked by two violent incidents, the first resulting in 18 apparent civilian deaths in a pre-dawn NATO air raid in Logar in the east, and the second involving at least 22 deaths in two suicide attacks in the afternoon in Kandahar in the south.

In a third fatal incident on Wednesday, NATO acknowledged the loss of two soldiers in a helicopter crash in the eastern province of Ghazni.

The NATO raid in Logar, if confirmed, may prove to be another deadly and politically damaging mistake by international forces, whose reputation in Afghanistan is already low.
 
NATO has denied the report, saying it knows of only two civilians who were lightly injured, but the head of the Logar provincial council has said that 18 civilians died.

The target of the attack was a house in the Baraki Barak district where a tribal elder was meeting Taliban fighters.

The soldiers then called in the air attack, he said.

Logar's council head said the tribal elder and several members of his family, including women and children, were killed.

SevenTaliban fighters, who were nearby, were also killed.

Kandahar suicide attack

Later on Wednesday, two suicide bombers killed at least 22 civilians and wounded dozens more at a market in the southern city of Kandahar, authorities said.

Four provincial governors from the south were at a meeting at the nearby NATO base at the airport when the attack took place, General Abdul Hameed, Afghan army commander for the southern region, told Reuters news agency.

The explosion occurred 500m from an Afghan military base and about 5km from the main gate to the NATO airfield.

Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, later claimed responsibility for the attack in Kandahar.

In a second incident in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, NATO said two soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash.

The coalition did not disclose any other information about the crash, but a senior US defence official at the Pentagon said two American pilots were killed in the crash in Ghazni province.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to disclose details of the crash, said there was no indication of enemy activity in the area at the time.

Zabiullah Mujahid, another Taliban spokesman, claimed in an email that the group's fighters shot down the helicopter.


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