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NATO strike in Logar province killed 18 women and children, Afghans say

Afghan officials claim a NATO strike in Logar province killed 18 women and children.

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US soldiers from the 1st Platoon Alpha 3-71 cavalry prepare to walk downhill from an outpost in the Baraki Barak district of Logar Province on August 16, 2009. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

A NATO air strike in Logar Province, Afghanistan, has killed an unspecified number of people, with Afghan officials claiming 18 women and children are among the dead.

NATO denies civilians were among those killed in the predawn "precision air strike," but rather said "multiple insurgents" were killed in a joint Afghan-NATO operation, the LA Times reported

Civilian casualties have been a source of tension between Kabul and Western powers, particularly when Afghans have been killed in US drone strikes.

According to the BBC, which cited tribal elders and officials in Logar, NATO was targeting top Taliban commanders who had gathered at a house in a remote village in the district of Baraki Barak.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force, posted on the ISAF website, said the operation was to detain a Taliban leader in Baraki Barak district who "plans and participates in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the province."

After encountering "small arms fire," Afghan and coalition security forces "requested a precision air strike," the statement read. It added that two civilian women had "sustained non-life-threatening injuries."

At least eight Taliban commanders were killed in the strike, according to the BBC. 

In preparation for the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops by 2014, Afghan troops now take part in all "night raids," the LA Times wrote.

However, while Western forces describe such operations as Afghan-led, the key roles of intelligence-gathering, planning and air support fall to NATO troops, the Times wrote.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/war/afghanistan-war/120606/logar-province-afghanistan-nato-civilians-taliban