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NATO probes claims it killed 64 Afghan civilians

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NATO probe shows 64 civilians killedNATO dispatched a team of investigators to a remote area of northeast Afghanistan on Sunday to look into claims that coalition forces killed 64 civilians there in recent air and ground strikes.

Gen. Khalilullah Ziayi, police chief of Kunar province, said 15 men, 20 women and 29 children or young adults were killed during operations in Ghazi Abad district in the past four days. Kunar provincial governor, Fazlullah Wahidi, also said that 64 civilians were killed.

NATO said video of the operations in Kunar show coalition troops targeting and killing 36 armed insurgents in a remote, rugged valley.

"We take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously," U.S. Army Col. Patrick Hynes, director of NATO's operations center, said in a statement. "We are conducting an immediate assessment of these allegations and will report our findings."

Civilians casualties have surged in recent months as insurgents have stepped up attacks.

A recent United Nations report said it documented 2,412 conflict-related civilian casualties in the first 10 months of 2010. More than three-quarters of them were caused by militant activity, a 25 percent increase from the same period in 2009, the report said. At the same time, civilian casualties attributed to pro-government forces decreased.

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