CHAGHCHARAN, Afghanistan, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Nine people were killed and 25 wounded in an overnight operation launched by Afghan and the NATO-led coalition troops in the western province of Ghor, a provincial official said Wednesday, adding that local residents said most victims were civilians.
"According to initial reports by our security forces, nine people were killed and 25 others injured during a night raid operation against militants conducted by Afghan Special Forces supporting by the coalition troops in Sharhrak district overnight, " a spokesman for provincial government, Abdul Hai Khatibi, told Xinhua.
After local residents claimed that several women and children were among the casualties, the local government has launched an investigation into the incident to determine whether the killed were militants or civilians, he said.
Meantime, the NATO-led coalition or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that the ISAF is aware of reports of possible civilian casualties during the operation in the province 360 km west of Kabul.
"(The) ISAF can confirm an incident early this morning in Shahrak district, Ghor province in which an Afghan and coalition security force killed several insurgents during an operation to detain a Taliban leader," the ISAF's Joint Command said in a text sent to Xinhua via email.
"The ISAF takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and is assessing the facts surrounding this incident. We will release more information as appropriate," it added.
The incident came months after the Afghan government and the United States signed an agreement in Kabul in April to allow the Afghan forces to take the lead in the controversial night raids, a tactic that the coalition says is critical in the fight against the Taliban insurgents.
Three civilians were accidentally killed during an operation in eastern Logar province over the weekend, Afghan and coalition forces said.
The deaths of civilians by NATO-led troops during operations against Taliban fighting Afghan and about 100,000 coalition forces have long been a contentious issue between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO forces in the insurgency-hit country.
Afghan officials had in the past stressed such deaths would further undermine the war against Taliban and terrorist groups and inflame an anti-foreign sentiment in the country.
A total of 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and 1,954 injured in conflicts in the first six months of 2012, 15 percent down in overall civilian casualties compared with the same period last year, according to a mid-year UN report released in capital Kabul in August.
The UN report attributed 80 percent of the civilian deaths to the attacks of Taliban insurgents and other armed groups opposing the Afghan government, another 10 percent of the deaths were attributed to the Afghan and NATO-led forces and 10 percent were unattributed in the first six months this year.