14 including three civilians killed in latest Afghan violence

Nine Taliban militants, three civilians and two Afghan policemen were killed in the latest clashes and attacks in Afghanistan, officials said Saturday, dpa reported.

US-led troops killed five militants and destroyed six roadside explosive devices in separate operations in southern Helmand province on Thursday and Friday, the military said in a statement.

One Afghan policeman was killed and another was wounded during the operations, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the combined forces killed one insurgent and detained 16 in Kabul and southern Zabul provinces on Friday, the US military said.

One militant was killed and eight were detained in Shah Joy district of Zabul province, while the joint forces arrested eight other suspected militants in a separate operation in Sorubi district of Kabul province, it said.

In southern Ghazni province on Friday, two militants were killed when the explosive device, used for roadside attacks, exploded prematurely, Afghan interior ministry said in a statement.

A police officer was meanwhile shot dead by two militants riding on a motorbike in southern Kandahar province, the interior ministry statement said.

Before succumbing to his injuries, the wounded policeman fired back and killed one of the attackers, while the other managed to escape.

The US military also said their forces might have killed three Afghan civilians after their patrol was attacked by insurgents in Deh Rawood district of southern Uruzgan province on Wednesday.

"There have been unconfirmed reports that two men and one woman may have been killed as a result of the engagement," a statement said.

In another incident, NATO-led force "accidentally" wounded five civilians in Garmsir district of Helmand province on Friday after their patrol came under insurgent fires in the area, the alliance said.

"The ISAF patrol returned fire using small arms and mortars in order to break contact with the enemy and leave the area safely," a statement said, adding that shortly after the incident, five civilians went to the NATO base in Garmsir with burns.

Seven civilians were wounded in Sangin district of the same Helmand province on Friday when a rocket fired by insurgents missed a NATO base and instead hit a house in the area, NATO-led forces in Kabul said.

Civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces have become a sensitive issue for the Afghan government. President Hamid Karzai has several times in the past pleaded with some 65,000 international troops to exercise more caution during their anti-Taliban operations.

Afghan officials warned that the mounting civilian deaths would erode public support for the Western-backed Afghan government and would provoke anti-Westerner sentiment in the country.

Around 1,500 civilians have been among 4,000 people killed in the Afghanistan conflict in the first eight months of this year, according to report by the UN office in Kabul.

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