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Airstrikes in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province have killed 21 civilians, including women and children, a lawmaker from the region said Sunday.

Mohammad Hashim Alkozai said 13 civilians were killed in one strike and eight in another. Both were carried out late Friday in the Sangin district, where heavy fighting is underway between NATO-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban. Alkozai said at least five other people were wounded in the airstrikes.

"Innocent people, women and children, are the only victims of the airstrikes," he said, adding that the military operations have stoked public anger.

Omer Zwak, the provincial governor's spokesman, said insurgents fired on Afghan forces from a civilian area. He confirmed that airstrikes had killed civilians but could not provide further information. He says an investigation has been launched. Alkozai said he has raised concerns about civilian casualties in parliament and with officials.
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