TWO Afghan women were killed in an operation in eastern Afghanistan that also left 17 insurgents dead, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said today.
Local officials had previously said that two women and a child died in the fighting late Tuesday in the Dangam district of Kunar province.
"The security forces returned fire, killing the insurgent and what turned out to be two women he was hiding behind," an ISAF statement said.
It added that during the operation, ISAF troops "killed 17 insurgents including foreign fighters and detained one suspected insurgent while searching for an Al-Qaeda senior leader".
The issue of civilian casualties is a cause of serious tension between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers and is highly sensitive in Afghanistan, triggering frequent protests.
Kunar province, which borders Pakistan, has seen a string of civilian casualties as foreign forces target insurgents, including the deaths of nine children in another air strike for which the US apologised last month.
There are around 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban-led insurgency that has lasted for nearly 10 years.