United States Special Forces said they killed more than 130 Taliban in two recent days of heavy fighting in a valley in western Afghanistan, but hundreds of angry villagers protested in nearby Shindand on Monday, saying dozens of civilians had been killed when the Americans called in airstrikes.

The protesters sacked and burned government buildings, said Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police. He said none of the demonstrators were injured, but news reports said a number of protesters were hurt as the police and the army moved in to subdue the crowd.

The American military said that the fighting against the Taliban occurred Friday and Sunday in the Zerkoh Valley, near the Iranian border about 30 miles south of the city of Herat, and that the Special Forces called in airstrikes on at least two occasions. An American soldier was killed in the fighting on Friday, the military said, but there were no other reported casualties on the coalition side.

Forty-nine Taliban fighters, including two leaders of the group, were killed in the first bombardment on Friday, and 87 militants were killed in bombing during a second battle on Sunday that raged for 14 hours, the military said in a statement from the United States-led coalition headquarters at the Bagram air base.

But the local residents said that civilians were killed in the bombardment and that some drowned in the river as they fled, according to a local member of Parliament, Maulavi Gul Ahmad. News agencies reported that demonstrators said women and children were among the dead.


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