KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- US-led airstrikes hit a Taliban gathering in volatile southern Afghanistan and killed at least three senior figures of the militant group, government officials said yesterday.
Local officials and doctors said dozens of wounded were brought to hospitals, one of them an 8-year-old boy.
The attacks in Helmand Province's Baghran district struck militants who had gathered to watch the hanging of two men accused by the Taliban of spying, said General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman.
The ministry said its intelligence reports indicated three militant leaders, including Taliban commander for the province Mullah Rahim, were among those killed Thursday. The Taliban commander for all of southern Afghanistan, Dadullah Mansoor, was at the scene but his fate was not known, Azimi said.
A purported Taliban spokesman denied Rahim was killed.
The US-led coalition would not confirm Azimi's account. But a coalition statement said it carried out a "precision airstrike against two notorious Taliban commanders conducting a leadership meeting in . . . the Baghran district."
The coalition gave few other details and no word of casualties.
Mohammad Hussein, the provincial police chief, said several Taliban and civilians were killed Thursday in an airstrike.
He said 20 wounded people were brought to the hospital in Helmand's capital of Lashkar Gah.
Twelve wounded men were brought to a hospital in Kandahar, a doctor there said.