By Yu Zhixiao, Abdul Haleem
KABUL, Jun 19, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Over 50 civilians and 60 insurgents were killed during a 3-day conflict, which involved the Taliban militants, NATO forces and Afghan troops, in Uruzgan province of southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials Tuesday.
However, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force ( ISAF) disputed the number of civilian casualties, saying only 10 civilians were injured.
Mawlawi Hamidullah, chief of Uruzgan provincial council, said ISAF and Afghan forces launched a massive operation against Taliban militants in Chora district from Saturday to Monday.
During the 3-day operation, 50 to 70 civilians were killed and 100 others injured, while 60 to 70 Taliban militants were killed, Hamidullah told Xinhua, adding that some civilians were killed by militants, while others were killed by ISAF bombings.
Afghan officials gave different death tolls of the fighting, and it is difficult to verify them as the incident occurred in a remote and volatile region. And it is extremely difficult to differentiate between civilian casualties whether caused by ISAF bombings or by Taliban fires.
Uruzgan provincial police chief Mohammad Qasim told Xinhua that 50 to 60 insurgents, four policemen were killed and 18 civilians were injured.
Hajj Abdul Khaliq, a parliament member from the province, said at least 30 civilians were killed and 55 others injured during the 3-day clash.
A local pro-government tribal commander Toor Abdullah said 15 of his family members were killed by the Taliban during their resistance against Taliban militants.
Meanwhile, a local resident Abdul Malik said 12 of his family members were killed by Taliban fires and ISAF bombings.
However, an ISAF spokesman John Thomas told Xinhua that ISAF had "pretty credible reports" based on ISAF channel on the ground, which showed only about 10 civilians were injured.
During the operation, one ISAF soldier was killed and three others injured, while two policemen were also killed, he added.
ISAF operations in that area may not be over as it still is unstable, Thomas said, adding that ISAF and Afghan forces would exert their efforts to control the area.
About 37,000 ISAF and 13,000 coalition troops are operating in the country to hunt down militants and keep security.
These foreign troops have mistakenly killed Afghan civilians from time to time when carrying out operations, critically undermining the Afghan people's support to them.
A U.S. soldier opened fire toward civilians rampantly after a suicide bombing on June 16 in Kabul, at least killing one civilian and injuring another one.
According to Afghan officials, coalition forces killed 51 civilians in two operations in the western Herat province late April. The killing resulted in mass demonstrations in many places across Afghanistan.
ISAF and coalition forces have complained that Taliban insurgents deliberately mingle themselves with civilians and therefore civilian casualties were caused.