KABUL, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- NATO air forces killed 30 people including 18 civilians early Wednesday in a bombardment against a compound near Musa Qala district center in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, a local elder Haji Ibrahim told Xinhua.
Ibrahim said the 18 civilians were all family members of the compound's owner Haji Qasim, and the other 12 persons killed were Taliban militants.
Hundreds of Taliban insurgents have occupied Musa Qala district center since the evening of Feb. 1, and lots of NATO and Afghan troops are being deployed outside the district center, ready for possible clashes with the militants.
However, a latest statement by NATO troops said the air forces bombarded an isolated compound near Musa Qala district center, and had probably killed a known senior Taliban leader. The statement did not say whether other Taliban militants or civilians were killed in the attack.
"The senior Taliban leader that is believed to have been killed in the strike was linked to the Musa Qala uprising and disturbances across northern Helmand," it said, adding he was personally responsible for Taliban attacks on a dam in nearby Kajaki district on Tuesday.
Helmand has been a hotbed of Taliban militants, who clash with foreign and Afghan forces frequently.
About 400 people, mostly militants, have been killed in Taliban-related violence in Afghanistan this year.