A gunfight between Australian forces and Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan killed five children who were caught in the crossfire, the Australian Defense Ministry said Friday.
Afghan officials gave lower death tolls. Asadullah Hamdan, the provincial governor, said three children between 7 and 10 years old were killed.
The deaths Thursday come as the newly appointed US envoy to the region tours Afghanistan, and highlights a major issue President Barack Obama's administration will have to address as it increases its focus on the country - the rising civilian death toll.
Afghan parliamentarians say they worry the planned jump in US troops will further increase civilian casualties.
Envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived late Thursday for his first visit to the country since being appointed by Obama to define a new strategy to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other top officials.
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