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US Military Investigating Afghan Civilian Deaths

The U.S. military says it has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that a "small number" of U.S. soldiers were involved in the deaths of as many as three Afghan civilians.

In a statement Thursday, the military says there are also allegations of illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy. The soldiers have not yet been charged, but officials say one service member has been placed in pre-trial confinement.

The U.S. military did not give any details of when, where and under what circumstances the Afghan civilians died. The army said it began the probe after receiving "credible information" from the soldiers' unit earlier this month.

In other news, a Maldives government official says Afghan officials and members of the Taliban are meeting in the Indian Ocean archipelago for talks.

A spokesman for Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed, Mohamed Zubair, said the meeting took place Thursday. An Afghan government spokesman said none of its officials were taking part.

The Maldives hosted a similar meeting earlier this year.

Afghanistan is holding a national peace assembly later this month. The "jirga" is aimed at finding ways to reintegrate and reconcile with members of the Taliban who have renounced violence.

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