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Australian Military: Troops Acted in Self-Defense in Afghan Gun Battle


The Australian military says its troops fired in self-defense in a gun battle in central Afghanistan that left a friend of President Hamid Karzai dead.

The military said Friday that troops opened fire Thursday in Uruzgan province after unknown attackers shot at them.

The Australian military acknowledged local police were in the area, and that a number of Afghans were killed or wounded.

But it said it does not know whether Australian soldiers killed the president's friend, Rozi Khan Barekzai.

Barekzai was the Chora district governor and a tribal leader. Two of his bodyguards also were killed.

President Karzai called the incident a misunderstanding between foreign troops and Afghan security.

Separately, the U.S.-led coalition says one of its soldiers was killed in a roadside bombing in western Afghanistan Friday. The coalition did not provide the soldier's nationality or details of the blast.

Also today, NATO says its troops shot and killed an Afghan civilian after the vehicle he was in did not stop driving towards a military convoy in Kandahar.

The deaths of Afghan civilians and security forces killed by foreign troops have stirred an outcry from the Afghan people and government.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week that the U.S. military needs to do more to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Gates also told reporters in London Thursday that the U.S. Defense Department is reviewing its war strategy in Afghanistan. He said the strategy must be continually adjusted based on changing circumstances.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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