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Dispute over Afghanistan civilian deaths

THE United States military said yesterday reports that as many as 147 civilians died in fighting in Afghanistan involving American forces and the Taliban were "extremely over-exaggerated" and investigators were still analyzing the data collected at the site.

In the south, meanwhile, four NATO soldiers and 21 civilians died in a string of insurgent attacks, and an unmanned US drone crashed in central Ghazni province.

Officials said findings of the joint US-Afghan investigation into the deaths in the villages of Ganjabad and Gerani in the Farah province would be released soon, but they have yet to schedule an announcement.

Reports of the large number of civilian deaths come at an awkward time for the Obama administration, as the US steps up its military campaign there while emphasizing the importance of nonmilitary efforts to stabilize the country.

An official said he collected from residents the names of 147 people killed during fighting on Monday night and Tuesday. If true, it would be the deadliest case of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban.


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