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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
US planes 'bomb Afghan village'
US warplanes have bombed a remote village in eastern Afghanistan killing at least six people and wounding several others, local officials say.

Police in Konar province say civilians and militants are among the dead.

They say US warplanes destroyed eight houses in Weradesh village, following an attack on government positions.

A statement from the US military said US-led forces had responded to militant fire in the province, but made no mention of civilian deaths.

A Taleban claim it carried out the attack has not been confirmed. The area is a stronghold of renegade military commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

'Taleban handiwork'

Taleban Commander Qari Ismail told the BBC by satellite phone that 140 fighters took part in Monday night's attack.

He said that US planes attacked after Taleban forces captured three abandoned military outposts and seized some weapons.

Konar Province Governor Sayed Fazel Akbar said the attack was the handiwork of Taleban or al-Qaeda militants.

US warplane strike in Afghanistan
The battle lasted several hours before American aircraft came

The BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says the fighting is in an area where militants have been active in the past.

He says that it is also a base of support for fighters loyal to the former mujahadeen leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has declared a holy war on the government of President Hamid Karzai.

American aircraft have been accused on a number of occasions in the past of killing civilians in Afghanistan.

A US statement said that aircraft and ground forces had responded to militant fire, leading to a fire fight in the area. It said several militants were killed.

Attackers 'wounded'

Local Afghan officials say that US warplanes carried out the raid after rockets were fired at army positions in Mano Gai district, 170km east of the capital, Kabul.

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Police responded with small arms fire.

Officials say the battle lasted several hours before American aircraft came in to provide support.

Police say eight houses in one village were destroyed, and an Afghan worker for a Western aid agency was injured.

A spokesman for the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) - which had a team working in the area - said one of their workers was injured in the US bombing.

"Our people decided to take shelter," said DACAAR Director Gorm Pedersen.

"It was while they were running from the camp to the village that they were hit."

The deputy police chief of Konar province, Mohammed Arif Nizami , told the BBC that he believed the attackers also suffered casualties, but he could not say how serious.

Our correspondent says that members of Mr Hekmatyar's group are also seen as possible suspects for Sunday's bombing in Kabul, where fears are still high of another attack.

An area near the German embassy in the centre of the city was cordoned off by US and Nato-led peacekeeping troops on Tuesday after the discovery of a suspect vehicle, not long before people started gathering for a memorial service for victims of Sunday's blast.

Nato says at least three Americans and three Afghans died in that incident.

The BBC's Andrew North
"This was a fairly heavy battle"

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