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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
'Civilians dead' in Afghan assault
Effigy of President Bush is burnt during protest in Jalalabad
Afghans protested for a third day at alleged civilian deaths
At least 30 civilians were killed during recent fighting in the Afghan province of Herat, police and government officials say.

They say that women and children were among the victims.

US-led forces have said that at least 135 Taleban fighters were killed in the clashes in the district of Shindand on Sunday and Friday.

On Monday the US said it had used land and air strikes in Shindand and had no reports of any civilian casualties.

'Various sources'

Afghan officials and local people have told the BBC's Pashto service that more than 30 civilians died in the exchanges.

And Herat police chief Mohammad Shafiq Fazli told the AFP news agency: "There were at least 30 civilians including women and children among those killed in Shindand's fighting."

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He said his information was based on "reports from various sources" from the area.

Shindand Governor Khodadad Erfani also said there were civilians among the dead, "but we don't have the number".

Meanwhile in the eastern city of Jalalabad, there has been a third day of protests against the alleged killing of civilians by US-led forces.

Hundreds of people - mostly students - briefly blocked a main road into the provincial capital and repeated calls for President Hamid Karzai to step down.

'Carelessness'

The death of civilians has been a major issue in Afghanistan, with Nato saying in January that its biggest mistake in 2006 had been the killing of innocent people.

The alliance has been accused of carelessness over civilian lives when attacking Taleban fighters.

In December President Karzai tearfully accused coalition forces of "killing our children".

Nato said afterwards that efforts were under way to reduce civilian deaths in military operations.

But it said that it killed far fewer people in 2006 than the Taleban, who launched more than 100 suicide attacks.




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