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Afghans release raid report

September 01, 2008|From the Associated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — An Afghan army commander said U.S. and Afghan troops were fired on first from a village where a government inquiry commission says scores of civilians were killed, according to a report released Sunday.

The chief of staff for the army's Herat corps told the head of the government's investigative commission that shots were fired early Aug. 22 at U.S. and Afghan troops who had gone to Azizabad on a raid. They had not entered the village.

But the report, which appeared to be preliminary findings and was released by the office of President Hamid Karzai, does not specify who fired the shots.

"When the ANA [Afghan army] and coalition troops got close to the village, firing started after the ANA unit stopped, and the coalition forces conducted the operation in the village," the report says.

There were no "foreign or internal Taliban" among the victims, the report says.

The commission found that 15 men, 15 women and 60 children were killed. That finding was backed by a preliminary United Nations report based on interviews with villagers. The commission said eight houses were destroyed and seven damaged in the airstrikes.

The U.S.-led coalition maintains that 25 militants and five civilians died. The U.S. says it is investigating the incident.

The top North Atlantic Treaty Organization spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, said Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition, Afghan government and United Nations would launch an inquiry into the raid.

Meanwhile, NATO said that a roadside blast Sunday in southern Afghanistan killed a soldier. It did not release the soldier's nationality or the exact location of the attack.

Also, the U.S. coalition said it had killed more than 220 militants during a six-day battle in the southern province of Helmand that ended Saturday.

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