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NATO Probes Afghan Civilian Deaths Claims

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan - An Afghan official said Thursday that 10 election campaigners had been killed in an airstrike by international forces in the relatively peaceful north of the country.

Ten Afghan civilians were killed Thursday in a NATO air strike on three vehicles carrying election campaign workers in northern Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai -- seen here in July -- said in a statement. (AFP/Yuri Cortez) Two other people, including a candidate in the September 18 parliamentary elections, were injured in the alleged air raid in Rustaq district, in Takhar province, provincial government spokesman Faiz Mohammad Tawhedi told AFP.

The men were travelling in a "caravan" of vehicles when raided by "aircraft and helicopter gunships," he said.

The election campaigners were working for parliamentary candidate Abdul Wahed Khurasani, who had survived the bombing with injuries, he said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the international counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan, said it was "aware of the allegations".

"We're investigating to find out if it's true or not," an ISAF spokesman said.

NATO has around 150,000 troops in Afghanistan to fight a Taliban-led insurgency.

The international force has been responsible for scores of civilian deaths, many of them killed during air raids aimed against insurgents.

A recent UN report said about 20 percent of the more than 1,300 civilians killed in the first half of the year lost their lives in NATO and other pro-government troops' actions, with most of the rest killed by militants.

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