US air strike 'kills Afghan civilians'

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An American air strike in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, has killed over 20 civilians, according to local officials.

Governor Asadullah Wafa said several homes in Sangin district had been damaged by US forces because they had been caught in the crossfire of running battles between American and Afghan troops and Taliban forces.

Reports from the area remain sketchy, although a spokesperson for the American-led Nato task force in the area confirmed that several attacks had taken place in recent days.

However he denied they any confirmed civilian casualties, noting to the Associated Press news agency that a "significant" number of "enemy casualties" had been reported.

An additional statement from the American military said that Afghan and coalition forces had been engaged while on patrol around 15 miles north of Sangin and that they had come under fire and retaliated.

The statement also confirmed that "close air support" had been used to destroy the "enemy command" along with an underground network of tunnels used by the insurgent forces.

The latest reports of civilian casualties will exacerbate the growing unrest among the Afghanistan population, who are becoming increasingly concerned by what they consider carelessness on the part of foreign troops in civilian areas.

It follows just a day after the US issued an apology for killing 19 innocents in March, which was coupled with calls from the Afghan senate for the government in the capital, Kabul, to open talks with the local militants in a bid to end fighting.

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