At least five Afghan civilians, of which four were children, were reportedly killed Tuesday night during an operation by joint NATO and Afghan forces in the eastern Arghanistan province of Logar, according to reports by a local police official.
Reports indicate that the military operation included both soldiers operating on the ground and a possible airstrike.
While the defense ministry rejected any notion of civilian deaths, Reuters reports that television footage they had taken in the village, Sejewand, showed the bodies of at least three children.
Logar police official Rais Khan Seddiq confirmed that, following the attack, "two civilians were killed and three were wounded," and that all those wounded had later died. Four of those killed were children, he added.
And Pajhwok Afghan News is reporting that a total of seven civilians had died as a result of Tuesday's operation:
Women and children were among the civilians killed in the air raid that wounded several others, the provincial council head, Dr. Abdul Wali, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Some of the victims succumbed to their injuries on their way to hospital, because foreign forces had blocked roads to the district centre, he alleged.
The two-day operation which ended in a night raid Tuesday in the province's Baraki Barak district was allegedly undertaken by Afghan commandos, assisted by international special forces, in order to rescue two Afghan soldiers captured the previous day by the Taliban.
Despite the numerous witness reports, the Afghan defense ministry's head of operations, Afzal Aman, insists that all those killed or detained had been carrying weapons.
"We...do not accept the claim of civilian casualties. All those killed or detained were armed, but an investigation is occurring and it will become clear if there are any civilians among the dead," he said.
The incident follows an order by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai earlier this month calling for the withdrawal of all US special forces from neighboring Wardak province in response to reports of torture and extrajudicial killings.
Karzai has previously criticized special forces raids in Afghan villages, particularly those in which civilians are killed, Reuters reports.