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Afghan official: Taliban using human shields

MARJAH, Afghanistan (AP) - An Afghan official says Taliban fighters are using civilians as human shields as they try to resist a military offensive into the Afghan town of Marjah.

The Afghan brigade commander says insurgents are firing at troops from inside or next to compounds where soldiers can "very clearly see women or children on the roof or in a second-floor or third-floor window." He says the militants are trying to get troops to "fire on them and kill the civilians."

The brigade commander says troops are either holding their fire or advancing much more slowly to ensure civilians aren't killed. There have been at least 15 civilian deaths so far in the five-day-old offensive.

U.S. Marine officials say today the Taliban resistance is more disorganized than in the first few days of the assault involving 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops. Four NATO service members have been killed in the operation.

NATO hopes to rush in aid as soon as the town is secured to win the loyalty of the population.

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