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Police Say Two Afghan Farmers Shot Dead By NATO-Led Troops

KABUL (Reuters) -- NATO-led troops have shot dead two Afghan farmer, who were watering their land in east Afghanistan, a police chief told Reuters.

The two Afghans were killed late on March 24 just outside Khost city, east of the capital Kabul, provincial police chief Abdul Qayum Baqizoi said, adding that they were innocent civilian farmers tending their land.

A spokesman for NATO-led forces said the alliance was investigating an incident in Khost, but would not give any further details or information.

The incident follows a dispute between the U.S. military and the Afghan government over the deaths of five Afghans killed in the northern Kunduz Province during a U.S. raid last week.

Officials said the dead were not militants, but employees of a district mayor. But the U.S. military said detailed intelligence had led them to a compound where they responded to hostile fire.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said civilian casualties are the biggest cause of tension between him and his Western backers, who have about 70,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban-led insurgency.

More than 2,100 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, 40 percent more than in 2007, the United Nations has said. Around a quarter were killed by international forces, according to the UN.

Separately in Khost, a roadside bomb killed eight civilians aboard a minibus and wounded eight others, NATO-led forces said.