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'Double deaths' in Afghan strike

Human rights group says 34 civilians killed in attack

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An Afghan man injured in airstrikes lies in a hospital bed.

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(CNN) -- A human rights group said Friday that about 34 civilians were killed in a U.S. air attack Monday on the village of Azizi in southern Afghanistan, more than double the number previously cited by President Hamid Karzai.

"According to a witness who was wounded and is now in the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar, there were two separate groups of civilians killed in the village," said Engineer Abdul Qader Noorzai, director of the Kandahar office of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said.

He said one group of about 25 people was the extended family of a man named Atta Mohammad.

"They were living in a walled mud compound that was destroyed. The family included many women and children."

He said the second group, which included the witness, was composed of day laborers who had been constructing a second floor to the village madrassah when the attack occurred.

"There were nine people killed in this second group," he said.

The witness said "many more Taliban fighters were also killed, but that the 34 village people killed were civilians and were not involved in the fighting."

The governor of Kandahar had told reporters Monday that 50 Taliban fighters and 15 civilians were killed in U.S. airstrikes on a rebel stronghold in Azizi.

Another 16 civilians or more were wounded in the airstrikes, the governor said.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said she had not seen the human rights group's report, but would be in contact with the regional governor.

A U.S. military statement on Monday said coalition forces conducted the operation near the village of Azizi, the third in a week, which "resulted in the unconfirmed deaths of possibly up to 80 Taliban members."

"Initial assessments have confirmed 20 Taliban killed with an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties."

Spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick said coalition forces were aware of reports of civilian casualties "and are continuing to review assessments from ground elements in the region."

He said those people killed Monday "were active members of the Taliban network who conducted attacks against coalition and Afghan forces as well as civilians."

The network members had attacked Afghan government officials and collected explosives to be used in improvised explosive devices, he said.

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