Afghan casualties disputed after U. S. air strikes

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 9:21 PM

S. warplanes conducted two air strikes in Afghanistan close the border with Pakistan on Wednesday but there were conflicting reports on whether the casualties were civilians or combatants.

U. S. warplanes conducted two air strikes in Afghanistan close the border with Pakistan on Wednesday but there were conflicting reports on whether the casualties were civilians or combatants.

The two strikes in Paktika province were aimed at insurgent targets, U. S. military spokesman Commander Fernando Estrella said on Thursday, but he gave number more details.

Paktika provincial police chief Zorawar Zahid said fourteen insurgents were killed. But another local official said those killed were civilians.

"I'm from the area where the incident happened and I can declare there were all civilians," said Nimatullah Baburi, a deputy provincial council chief.

The first strike killed about fifteen people and the second six, including men who were trying to gather the bodies from the first bombing, Baburi said.

The men were armed but only for their own protection, he said.

Estrella said there was number proof that civilians were killed and Afghan security executive also denied the report.

U. S. airstrikes in Afghanistan have increased in recent months, particularly along the eastern border with Pakistan.

(Reporting by Elyas Wahdat in Paktia and by Josh Smith in Kabul, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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