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US Blames Taliban for Afghan Deaths
Al Jazeera News

The US military says that Taliban fighters prevented civilians from fleeing clashes in southern Afghanistan, leading to the deaths of about 40 people, believed to have been attending a wedding ceremony.

US and Afghan forces killed several Taliban fighters in the battle, which took place in Kandahar, the US military said on Thursday.

The military did not specify how many civilians were killed in the fighting, but villagers say that about 37 civilians died in a US air raid on Monday.

The bombing run was called in as part of the fighting between US forces and Taliban fighters in the area.

The military's statement said that fighters attacked a US-led patrol that was moving through the Shah Wali Kot region of Kandahar between Monday and Wednesday.

"Civilians reportedly attempted to leave the area, but the insurgents forced them to remain," the US military said, but did not specify where the report was from.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, condemned on Wednesday the killings, saying that 40 people had been killed and 28 wounded as a result of an air raid.

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