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    Joint team to probe Logar civilian deaths: ISAF

    KABUL (PAN): NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has initiated a joint incident assessment team to assess a combined Afghan-coalition forces’ operation -- where civilians were allegedly killed in central Logar province, said the alliance on Thursday.

    The pre-dawn airstrike killed at least 18 civilians, including women and children, and seven insurgents, officials said on Wednesday.

    An ISAF statement said the incident allegedly occurred as the combined force approached the targeted building and was engaged with small arms fire.

    Deputy Police Chief Raees Khan Sadeq had told Pajhwok Afghan News some insurgents present at a residence opened fire on foreign soldiers, forcing them to retaliate with an airstrike, which led to the deaths of civilians and fighters.

    He said a Taliban commander -- Qari Sardari -- was staying at the tribal elder’s house at the time of the ISAF strike.

    “Coalition forces take every allegation of civilian casualties seriously and will conduct a complete assessment of the engagement,” the ISAF statement said.

    The Presidential Palace on Thursday said President Hamid Karzai had cut short his China trip due to the latest civilian casualties in Wednesday’s NATO airstrike in Logar.

    Karzai is in Beijing to attend a two-day regional Shanghai Cooperation Organsiation summit.