Child among four civilians killed in Afghan raid

Four civilians, including a child, were killed in a two-day raid against Taliban insurgents by Afghan and international forces in a restive province south of the capital Kabul, officials said Wednesday.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it was "aware of the allegations of civilian casualties" but insisted that foreign troops were "not directly involved".

A local official said the joint operation in Logar province was launched after the Taliban kidnapped two Afghan National Army soldiers two nights ago.

"Four civilians were killed and four were injured in the fighting. One child was among those killed," said district governor Mohammad Rahimi Amin, who added that 23 Taliban fighters were also killed and 40 detained.

Another Afghan official, who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the civilian casualties. A statement from the Afghan interior ministry confirmed the Taliban deaths but made no mention of any civilians killed.

The issue of civilian casualties in coalition operations is highly sensitive in Afghanistan, where the United States and its NATO allies have been fighting the Taliban for 11 years.

In the past they have provoked harsh criticism from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is due to step down at elections next year which will coincide with the scheduled withdrawal of foreign combat troops.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mudjahid said in a text message that 28 civilians were killed in the Logar raid along with 15 militants. The Islamists are known to routinely exaggerate their claims and distort toll figures.