Four Afghans killed in Pakistani border strike, say Afghan officials

ASADABAD Afghanistan Sat May 31, 2014 9:00am EDT

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ASADABAD Afghanistan (Reuters) - An airstrike by Pakistani forces along the Afghan border killed four civilians on Saturday, officials said, as a Pakistani offensive against Taliban militants continued despite protests by the Afghan government.

Pakistan launched its first major offensive in years against insurgents near the Afghan border on May 22 after several rounds of government-led peace talks ended in failure.

"A Pakistani army helicopter strike in Dangam district killed four civilians and wounded ten others," said Abdul Habib Sayed Khel, police chief of Afghanistan's Kunar province, adding that 124 rockets had landed in the province on Saturday alone.

Afghanistan says hundreds of rockets and bombs have landed in Afghan villages close to the border since the offensive began 11 days ago.

Anger over the strikes prompted Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday to demand the Pakistani government take action to stop its military killing Afghan civilians.

Pakistan said the airstrikes had targeted Taliban militants conducting attacks on Pakistani soil from across the Afghan border, but agreed to investigate claims that civilians had been killed.

In turn, Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of sheltering the Afghan Taliban on its territory.

In a separate incident in eastern Ghazni province, a dozen people were killed by a roadside bomb.

"Their minivan hit a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban... They were travelling to a wedding ceremony," Ghazni governor's spokesman Shafiq Nang Safi told Reuters.

Afghan forces have stepped up security operations ahead of the second round of the presidential election on June 14.

(Reporting by Mustafa Andalib in Ghazni, Mohammad Anwar in Kunar and Mirwais Harooni in Kabul; writing by Jessica Donati, editing by Rosalind Russell)

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