KABUL (AFP) - Afghan villagers protested against troops Saturday amid claims that 76 civilians, most of them children, were killed in air strikes on Taliban as the US military opened a probe into the incident. President Hamid Karzai condemned civilian casualties from Friday's clashes in the western province of Herat but there were conflicting claims about the death toll, with the US-led coalition saying only 30 rebels were killed. It was difficult to independently verify what had happened near the village of Azizabad, about 120 kilometres south of Herat city, with the area considered dangerous and a stronghold of Taliban and other militants. Villagers gathered in an angry demonstration Saturday, hurling stones at Afghan troops, the police chief for western Afghanistan, General Akram Yawar, told AFP. Shots were fired into the air to disperse the crowd and two people were wounded, he said. The troops were forced back into their compound, he said by telephone with the crowd's chants against the government and the international troops heard in the background. The US military, which has been accused of killing scores of other civilians in action against insurgents, including around 50 at a wedding party in July, said it would investigate. "Coalition forces make every effort to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives. An investigation has been directed," said a coalition statement from the main US military base at Bagram, north of Kabul. Its investigations generally take a long time and the results of the investigation into the strikes on the wedding party in the eastern province of Nangarhar have still not been made public. The interior ministry said it had sent a delegation to the area while the United Nations urged against "jumping to conclusions" but was also trying to find out what happened.