Smoke rises from a bomb explosion as Afghan policemen, right, look on during an opium poppy eradication operation in Alingar, Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 30, 2012. A bomb exploded next to the opium poppy fields during a poppy eradication campaign in Alingar, wounding two Afghan police reaction forces, police officials said. Afghanistan supplies most of the world's opium.
KABUL: NATO said a Taliban leader and another insurgent were killed Tuesday after they opened fire on coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan. Villagers in the area disputed the statement and insisted the victims were civilians killed during a pre-dawn raid.
According to the alliance, the Taliban leader killed in Laghman province's Qarghayi district was wanted for coordinating roadside bombings against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the area. NATO also said that several other insurgents were detained in the Afghan-led operation.
But in the village of Bolan, Mohammad Aziz Khochi said soldiers stormed his house at about 2 a.m. Tuesday and that two of his nephews were killed in the raid.
"My sister thought that thieves had come to the house and she started shouting," Khochi said. "One of her sons came out and the American forces shot him and killed him. Then her other son came out and they killed him."
Khochi, who was in the house at the time of the raid, said the security forces detained seven other men. He said many of the people staying in his house were government workers and that one of his slain nephews was a member of the local district council.
Khochi also questioned why the troops had to come at night, saying they should have asked those in the house to report to the governor's office to answer any accusations against them.
Another villager who witnessed the raid, Abdul Malik Abdul Rahimzai, also denied the victims were insurgents and insisted the soldiers "attacked innocent people" who were unarmed.
Night raids are extremely controversial in Afghanistan, and under a recent U.S.-Afghan deal, they must now be led by Afghan forces.
In Helmand province, NATO said a joint Afghan and coalition force detained a Taliban leader and several of his subordinates in Washer district on Tuesday. It said he was the senior Taliban leader for the province's Kajaki district and was responsible for roadside bombings and suicide attacks, including one earlier this month on a district police building.