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Afghan Probe Links NATO Strikes to 65 Civilian Deaths

The lifeless body of a dog is seen as Afghan police officers, right, look at the wreckage of a car after an explosion in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, February 27, 2011

The Afghan government says NATO forces killed 65 civilians, many of them children, during recent attacks on a militant stronghold.

A government statement Sunday disclosed findings of an investigation conducted last week. It said the death toll from NATO air and ground operations earlier this month in Kunar province included 21 boys, 19 girls, 10 women and 15 adult males.

Shahzada Masood, who headed the inquiry panel, told the German news agency DPA that most of the civilians were killed in an airstrike on a remote village near the Pakistan border, when NATO warplanes mistook the locals for insurgents.

NATO has expressed regret for any civilian casualties and has launched its own inquiry. It has not yet released its findings.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the investigation, after publicly linking international forces to the civilian deaths - a highly-charged issue with much of the Afghan public.

Separately Sunday, Afghan authorities say two bomb blasts in the southern part of the country have killed at least eight people.

The victims were watching a dog fight on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Five police officers were reported to be wounded in the blasts. There has been no claim of responsibility.