At least eight policemen were killed Thursday during an operation by U.S.-led coalition troops in central Afghanistan, which also left several insurgents dead, officials said.

The officers died in the village of Ghariban in Ghazni province during an operation that included U.S. ground forces and air strikes, said the deputy head of Ghazni's provincial council, Habeb-ul Rahman. It was unclear whether Afghan troops also took part in the raid.
Two villagers, including a woman, were killed in the clash, Rahman said.

It was not immediately clear how the officers and civilians were killed.

The U.S.-led coalition said it had killed "several insurgents" and detained nine others during an operation targeting a "Taliban commander associated with suicide improvised explosive device operations," in Ghazni province.

"Coalition forces were met with small-arms fire from several insurgents during a search of one of the compounds," a coalition statement said. "Using a combination of small-arms and accurate aerial-delivered conventional munitions, coalition forces returned fire killing several insurgents," the statement said.

Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman, said officials were looking into reports of police casualties.

Belcher said four policemen were wounded by insurgents during the operation.

Afghan police officials in Ghazni province, who spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that policemen appeared to have been killed by air strikes, which also destroyed several houses.

Their claim could not be independently verified.

Among the officers killed was the former provincial deputy police chief, Rahman said.

Faced with troop shortages, U.S. and NATO-led troops rely heavily on the use of air power in their fight against Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan. Such tactics have caused many civilians casualties in past years, and at times caused friction with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has urged caution and co-ordination with Afghan authorities.

U.S. and NATO officials accuse militants of using civilians as human shields.

More than 2,500 Canadian soldiers are serving in the southern Kandahar region of Afghanistan. Since the mission started in 2002, 78 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed.

Another prime example of those wonderful air strikes.