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Taliban Fighters Seize District in Eastern Afghanistan


Afghan officials say Taliban militants have overtaken a remote district in eastern Afghanistan after days of heavy fighting with police.

Provincial officials say the insurgents took control of Barg-e-Matal district on Saturday after forcing police to retreat from the district's administrative compound. The district is located in the mountainous Nuristan province, which borders Pakistan.

In a separate development Saturday, the U.S. military acknowledged that operators of a remote-controlled drone aircraft are to blame for the deaths of 23 civilians in an attack in Afghanistan earlier this year.

U.S. troops fired missiles and rockets at the civilians' vehicles in Uruzgan province after mistaking them for a convoy of Taliban insurgents.

The military's investigative report into the February 21 incident says the crew operating the drone provided "inaccurate" reporting and ignored or downplayed information that civilians were in the convoy.

The report, released Saturday, describes the command posts as "poorly functioning" and says they failed to provide the ground force commander with evidence and analysis that the vehicles were not a hostile threat.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, said inadvertently killing or injuring civilians is "heartbreaking." He said the U.S. will do all it can to regain the trust of the Afghan people.

The military statement said General McChrystal officially reprimanded four senior and two junior officers after reviewing the investigation.

The report cited shortcomings in training, communication and decision-making and offered recommendations to prevent future incidents.

Separately, the Afghan Interior Ministry said a suicide bomber detonated himself Saturday in Kabul, but caused no other casualties.

The explosion took place close to a supermarket run by Supreme Food Services, the main food supplier to foreign forces in the country. The store is located near the main road used by NATO convoys traveling in and out of the capital.

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

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