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Message Icon Topic: After an Election, All is ever Peaceful! Post Reply Post New Topic
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Topic: After an Election, All is ever Peaceful!
    Posted: 29 May 2006 at 9:43am

50 killed in Afghanistan air strike
Staff and agencies
Monday May 29, 2006

Around 50 Taliban fighters were killed in a US-led air strike in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province today, military and Afghan officials said.

Several Taliban leaders were among those killed in the pre-dawn attack in the Kajaki district, Amir Mohammad Akhundzada, the deputy provincial governor said.

"The Taliban were meeting in a mosque when the bombardment took place," Mr Akhundzada told Reuters. "More than 50 of them have been killed."

Major Quentin Innes, a Canadian spokesman with US-led troops in the south, said aircraft had dropped two 500lb bombs which had targeted a "compound" rather than a mosque.

The spokesman said the strike happened after a group of Taliban ambushed a troop convoy but did not inflict any casualties. "The group then fled into a compound ... and we estimate that up to 50 of the attackers may have been killed," he added.

A Taliban spokesman said no fighters had been killed and that all the victims were civilians.

US-led troops have carried out operations in rural areas of the south in the past two weeks, with the air strike taking the death toll to more than 370.

Most of those killed have been militants, but many civilians, dozens of Afghan security personnel and four soldiers have also died.

Before today's violence, up to 372 people, mostly militants, have been reported killed since May 17, according to military and Afghan figures.

Southern Afghanistan has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001 as US-led forces have responded to increased attacks from the Taliban in their former stronghold.

In a separate incident today, five Canadian soldiers were wounded in a gun battle after their convoy was ambushed by Taliban guerrillas in the neighbouring Kandahar province, a Canadian military spokesman said.

Meanwhile, thousands marched through the capital, Kabul, after security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least seven Afghans and wounding 40. The clashes followed a fatal traffic accident involving a US military convoy.

A truck went out of control and crashed into a dozen vehicles, killing at least one person and injuring six. Afghans threw stones, smashing windows in the convoy vehicles, a US military statement said.

One of the US vehicles appeared to fire in the air. Afghan police also opened fire when they came to the assistance of the US troops.

It was unclear who was responsible for shooting into the crowd. Some eyewitnesses blamed the US troops, others blamed the police and some blamed both.

"There are indications that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd," a US military statement said.

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw one man shot dead and several wounded people being taken away, while rioters set two police cars alight.

At least seven civilians were killed during the protest, Karim Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said.

The US said no troops had been hurt, and an investigation into the rush hour incident on Kabul's northern outskirts had begun.

By early afternoon, up to 2,000 protesters had gathered in central Kabul, some marching on parliament and some on the presidential palace.

Several hundred more congregated at an intersection leading to the heavily fortified US embassy, chanting "Death to America" and burning US flags.

"We don't accept Karzai any more as a president. We protest against him - death to Karzai!" Jaweed Agha, one of the protesters, shouted.

A few dozen people forced their way past a police cordon guarding the road to the US embassy and threw stones at vehicles carrying foreigners into the compound, prompting the occupants to fire into the air before turning back.

The protesters outside the embassy were later dispersed by police and Afghan army troops who fired into the air.
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