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    Civilians killed in Helmand operation

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Some civilians were killed during an operation by NATO forces in the Kajaki district of southern Helmand province, officials and residents said on Monday.

    The operation in the Sofla area was conducted against a notorious Taliban commander, Mullah Rahimuddin, said deputy police chief, Col. Kamaluddin Sherzad.

    Without putting a figure on civilian casualties, the police official said some residents had been killed and wounded during the overnight offensive.

    NATO's media office in Kabul said 10 insurgents were killed and two others arrested and a child rescued from Taliban captivity during the operation.  Suicide vests, weapons and ammunitions were also recovered.

    But resident Khan Muhammad said foreign troops raided the Haji Azim's house where a wedding ceremony was taking place.  The troops killed at least 18 wedding guests, he claimed.

    But NATO rejected the allegation as baseless.

    Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, also alleged foreign troops had killed 18 ordinary people in the district.

    Two days back, four civilians and 16 insurgents were killed in a NATO raid on a meeting of the guerrillas in Nad Ali district.

    frm/ma/mud