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Afghans Protest Civilian Deaths By US-led Coalition Troops

Hundreds of Afghans burned an effigy of President Bush Tuesday as they rallied for a third day to protest the killing of civilians by U.S.-led coalition troops.

The protesters briefly blocked a highway in eastern Nangarhar province, where six people were killed during a raid on Sunday by coalition troops and Afghan forces.

The coalition says four of the dead were militants, but villagers insist all six were civilians. The death of civilians has been a major issue in Afghanistan.

Also Tuesday, Afghanistan and its donors agreed at a meeting in Kabul to temporarily recruit 20,000 additional police officers to help cope with a Taleban-led insurgency in the volatile south.

The U.N.-backed Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board also said a reconstruction plan for Afghanistan was on track.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition warplanes killed four militants who attacked a town in the Spera district in Khost province late Monday.

Coalition officials say seven other militants were wounded when around 11 insurgents attacked a government building. A two-hour battle ensued. Two police officers were also injured.

Over the past year, Taleban insurgents have dramatically increased their attacks on Afghan officials, and NATO and U.S.-led coalition troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.