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U.S. Military Denies Air Strike In Nangarhar Killed Afghan Civilians

Smoke from a previous U.S. air strike in Nangarhar province

The U.S. military denied reports on August 11 that an air strike in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar killed as many as 16 civilians, saying the operation killed only militant fighters.

"The militants were observed loading weapons into a vehicle and were under surveillance until the vehicle was destroyed by an air strike," Bob Purtiman, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, told Reuters.

"The strike was conducted in the middle of open terrain. There was zero chance of civilian casualties," he said.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's defense ministry told AFP that the strike by NATO forces killed five insurgents and wounded two others.

Earlier in the day, officials in the Haska Mena district said that as many as 16 civilians, including women and children, had been killed when a passenger van and a nearby house were hit by a U.S. air strike.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters