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Afghan Report of 50 Insurgents Killed Is Disputed; Others Say Civilians Died

The U.S. military in Afghanistan says coalition forces killed more than 50 insurgents in southern Afghanistan during a 12-hour battle that ended early Thursday, but there also are reports of civilian casualties.

The battle took place in Helmand Province, near Musa Qala village, which has seen intense fighting and heavy casualties throughout this week.

A U.S. military statement says coalition warplanes were called in during the Musa Qala fighting, but that there were no casualties among either coalition troops or civilians.

However, several residents of Musa Qala district have told reporters they believe almost all victims of the air strike were civilians. They say 16 civilians died in the bombing raid.

One British soldier was killed Thursday during a separate clash between NATO troops and militants in southern Afghanistan.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan during the past 18 months, the bloodiest period since U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taleban in 2001.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.