The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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17 killed in Afghan raids
- Local govt blames US forces

Bagram, Feb. 12 (Reuters): Provincal Afghan authorities said at least 17 civilians had been killed in bombing raids by US-led forces that Washington says are aimed at rooting out remnants of the Taliban.

Haji Mohammad Wali, spokesman for the government of Helmand province, said an official of its Baghran district had reported the civilian deaths there after relatives came to the district headquarters. “The people came crying, saying their relatives had died or were missing,” Wali said by telephone from Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah.

US military officials told reporters today that B-52 and B-1 bombers had pounded a mountain ridge in central Afghanistan after ground forces spotted about 25 armed Taliban suspects taking up offensive positions.

Twelve suspects were captured during the operation near the village of Lejay in the Baghran Valley yesterday, US military spokesman Col Roger King told a news briefing at Bagram Air Base, the US headquarters in Afghanistan.

He said US ground forces called in air support over a period of eight hours after spotting men armed with AK-47s and rocket grenades moving along the ridgeline. He said he had no information about possible civilian deaths.

Wali said he had no information on casualties from fresh bombing the area last night. Haji Jilani, a resident of Shina Keli village in the Baghran valley, said he had seen bodies of two women, two children and a man in a riverbed from his house on a mountainside.

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