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Civilian died in Afghan crossfire, NATO says

  • Story Highlights
  • Afghan forces investigating death of woman caught in crossfire of gunbattle
  • NATO says 12 militants also died in the battle in Logar province
  • NATO said initial indications are the woman was killed by militants
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- NATO-led troops killed 12 insurgents in a firefight Friday in Afghanistan, and a civilian caught in the crossfire was apparently killed by militants, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

U.S. Marines fire 120mm mortars on Taliban positions on April 3 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines fire 120mm mortars on Taliban positions on April 3 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The incident occurred south of Kabul in the eastern Afghan province of Logar, when Afghan security forces and ISAF troops were conducting an operation.

It comes as NATO members meet in Europe to discuss the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as human rights groups this week urged NATO and the U.S. military to avoid civilian casualties and develop a well-coordinated condolence payment system for civilians victimized in the war.

Troops saw a large group of insurgents placing a roadside bomb. The militants retreated to a compound and attacked ISAF troops with small arms.

Troops surrounded the compound and urged them to surrender peacefully after it was cordoned off. It also asked the people in the compound to release women and children but no civilians left.

Troops assaulted the compound and 12 male insurgents were killed in gunfire. Troops found one woman who was killed in the crossfire by insurgent small arms fire, ISAF said.

An investigation is being conducted by Afghan National Security Forces at the site. Initial indications show that the woman was killed by insurgent small arms fire.

Eight AK47 rifles, two rocket propelled grenade launchers, several rocket canisters, 82mm mortars, and two heavy machine guns were found in the compound.

"ANSF and ISAF are making significant progress against insurgent groups in Logar province who are involved in murdering civilians with IEDs," said Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, ISAF spokesman.

"Today's firefight illustrates the difference between ISAF troops who risk their lives to protect civilians, and insurgents who deliberately and tragically place civilians at risk."

Also, ISAF reported the death of a soldier from the NATO-led force Friday in eastern Afghanistan.

The soldier died of wounds and another was injured after what was described as a "hostile incident."

"On behalf of the men and women of the International Security Assistance Force, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the brave soldier killed, and our support to the soldier wounded in this incident," Blanchette said.

"As we recognize their sacrifice in our battle against a vicious insurgency, we will continue supporting the Afghan National Security Forces so that the Afghan people reap the tangible benefits of peace in their day-to-day lives."

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Overnight in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, troops killed four militants in an operation targeting a mid-level Taliban commander responsible for attacks against Afghan civilians and coalition forces.

The commander directed attacks in December in Musa Qala, including one that killed 12 Afghan civilians.

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