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Afghan Ambush Kills 16, Wounds 24
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After a militant ambush on Sunday in eastern Afghanistan, retreating US Marines opened fire on civilian cars and pedestrians on a busy highway in. Up to 16 people were killed and 24 wounded in the violence, officials said.

Afghan officials sought to extricate the series of events, announcing that a suicide car bomber had targeted a coalition convoy, which locals described as a US military convoy, outside Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, in the morning.

The bombing was followed up by enemy small-arms fire from several directions, the statement said, adding that "coalition forces returned fire in defense of the patrol."
"Sixteen civilians died during the initial attack, including four civilians who later died of their wounds," said the statement, adding that 24 civilians and a coalition soldier were also wounded during the attack.

However, the statement shed no light on precisely how the civilians were killed or injured.

The Afghan police had earlier revealed that US soldiers had opened fire toward Afghans on the road after the blast, killing eight civilians and injuring dozens, adding that the incident was under investigation.

Hundreds of Afghans blockaded the road, and aimed stones at Afghan policemen who were sealing off the scene, as anti-US chants filled the air.

Due to a renewed Taliban-linked insurgency, over 400 people have lost their lives in violence and clashes in Afghanistan this year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2007)

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