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Afghan, NATO Officials Dispute Identity Of Air Strike Victims

A senior official in eastern Afghanistan says a NATO air strike has killed seven civilians, but NATO and U.S. officials say the victims were militants.

The deputy governor of Paktia province, Abdul Wali Sah, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on October 13 that the bodies of seven residents of the Udkey area were brought to the provincial capital Gardez.

He said villagers told him the seven were gathering firewood and had shovels that coalition forces might have mistaken for weapons.

Sahi also said NATO warplanes conducted the attack on October 12 "without coordination with Afghan officials."

U.S.-led coalition spokesman Colonel David Olsen confirmed a "precision strike" in the area but said "the result of this strike was eight enemy killed."

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan sent a statement to RFE/RL saying there were "no civilian casualties" in the Paktia air strike.

With additional reporting by Reuters and dpa