16 killed in strike against fugitive Afghan warlord

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April 7, 2008 14:43

 
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US and Afghan forces attacked a remote village in a mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan following reports that an infamous insurgent leader was in the area, a governor said Monday. At least 16 people were killed. Gov. Tamim Nuristani said US-led coalition and Afghan forces believed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was meeting with top deputy Kashmir Khan in the Dohabi district of Nuristan province on Sunday, sparking a fierce bombardment that included airstrikes. Other provincial leaders say many civilians were killed in the hours-long clash, which included airstrikes in the remote villages of Shok and Kendal. Nuristani said it was too early to know if any of the 16 killed were civilians. His casualty figures came from police who had reached the remote district. US officials and the Afghan Defense Ministry have denied that any civilians were killed. The competing claims were impossible to reconcile because the fighting took part in a remote and dangerous part of the country. US officials say that militants falsely claim civilian casualties as a strategy to weaken the international military coalition and the Afghan government.

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