Government officials in eastern Afghanistan accused NATO troops on Thursday of killing six civilians in an overnight raid, and more than 1,000 people poured into the streets in anger.
The military alliance said the joint patrol with Afghan forces in Khost province killed six fighters from a militant group allied with the Taliban known as the Haqqani network and injured one civilian.
"I don't have any indication that we killed civilians," Capt. Justin Brockhoff told The Associated Press.
But the reports stirred up anger in Khost and hundreds of people marched on the capital, shouting, "Death to America! Death to the government!" Men in the crowd carried the bodies of the dead on their shoulders.
The raid took place in the village of Toora Worai in an area known as Matoon, about seven kilometres from the provincial capital of Khost city.
"The coalition last night ran an operation in that village and unfortunately they were acting on an incorrect report that there was a meeting of Haqqani network commanders going on," said Mubarez Zadran, a spokesman for the provincial government. "The operation left six civilians dead."
Khost provincial council member Gul Mohammad Zazi said international troops stormed into the village around midnight and fired into the windows of houses. Zazi said the dead were not connected to the insurgency. He also put the number of dead at six, and said earlier information he had that seven were killed was incorrect.
Armed woman among killed
Brockhoff said that NATO and Afghan forces were going after a Haqqani leader who was responsible for attacks and weapons trafficking in the area.
"As the security force was clearing a compound in the area, multiple insurgents armed with AK-47 rifles and pistols opened fire on the force," Brockhoff said. Among those killed in the firefight was a woman who was armed with a pistol and fired on the troops, he added.
He said the international troops administered first aid to the female civilian who was wounded and transported her to a medical facility.
Asif Khan, a resident of Toora Worai who lives next to some of those who were killed, said all of the dead were civilians. A spokesman for local schools, Sayed Musa Majro, said the dead included a teacher and two students.
Also Thursday, NATO said one of its service members was killed Wednesday in an attack in eastern Afghanistan.
The coalition did not provide further details or the nationality of the service member.