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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 July 2007, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Karzai orders bomb deaths probe
A tractor leaves the village of Hyderabad for Gereshk on 30 June
The situation in the remote Gereshk area is difficult to verify
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered an inquiry into air strikes in Helmand province by foreign forces amid disputes over civilian deaths.

A local inquiry into Friday's strikes found 45 civilians and 62 Taleban fighters died but US-led coalition forces and Nato question the figure.

Mr Karzai recently accused foreign forces of "reckless" attacks.

Fighting has continued in Helmand with a UK soldier killed in an attack on a base at Gereshk on Sunday.

'Lots of bodies'

Mr Karzai has ordered a six-man team to investigate more thoroughly the air raids in Helmand province.

Last week he said the foreign forces were killing civilians through an "extreme use of force" and were not co-ordinating properly with the Afghan government.

Map showing Helmand province

Nato forces welcomed the investigation.

John Thomas, a spokesman for Nato's Isaf operation said: "We will co-operate in any way that we can. We don't mean to trivialise any of those who died, but we want to make it clear that we at this point believe the numbers are a dozen or less."

Mr Thomas insisted the military would not have fired on positions if they knew civilians were nearby.

The air strikes had been launched on Taleban fighters at Gereshk village on Friday night after they ambushed a joint convoy of US and Afghan government troops.

Mohammad Khan, a resident of Hyderabad, said seven members of his family, including his brother and five of his brother's children, were killed by air strikes.

Speaking to the Associated Press by phone, he said villagers were burying a "lot of dead bodies" on Sunday.

About two dozen civilians were also injured, villagers said.

The British soldier killed on Sunday was the second to die in two days.

The latest attack was on a patrol leaving a command centre at Gereshk where a liaison team was training the Afghan National Army.

Four other soldiers were injured in the attack, involving rockets and small-arm fire.


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Afghan man says many civilians died in US strikes



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