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Civilian Death Toll Almost Trebled In Afghan Attack

An Afghan boy injured in the rocket attack of 16 November lies in a hospital bed at a U.S. military base north of Kabul on November 17.
KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghan officials have said 14 civilians were killed by rockets fired by the Taliban into a crowded market on November 16, almost trebling the original toll given for the attack in the country's northeast.

"In total 14 people were martyred and 38 of our countrymen were wounded," Afghan Army General Paikan Zamaray told reporters after visiting some of the wounded at a medical facility in a NATO military base at Kabul Airport.

On November 16, Afghan police said five civilians had been killed and 28 wounded.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed the attack but said only four Afghans had been killed. No NATO soldiers were killed, it said.

Violence in Afghanistan this year has reached its worst levels since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

While Taliban insurgents normally target Afghan and international security forces, most casualties are usually civilians.

The wounded from the November 16 attack in the Tagab Valley in Kapisa Province, about 75 kilometers northeast of the capital, were taken to the NATO hospital at Kabul airport and another at Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, Zamaray said.

Zamaray said the rockets had hit a busy market in Tagab while the commander of French forces in Afghanistan had been attending a meeting with Afghan soldiers and village elders a few kilometers away.

The commander of the roughly 3,100 French troops in Afghanistan, Brigadier General Marcel Druart, said the rocket attack showed the insurgents were not able to take on his soldiers face-to-face.

"I think it's quite a...desperate course of action, because they are not in the situation where they can fight against us and can prevent us from the freedom of movement along the Tagab Valley," he told reporters.

Most French forces in Afghanistan are based in Kapisa and Kabul provinces.