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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Already tense relations between Afghanistan and the United States suffer another blow when U.S. marines shoot dead an Afghan child earlier this week.

According to Assistant Police Chief Abdullah Chopan saidMarines gunned down the child, who was between 4 and 5 years old, after they were shot at and returned fire in the Nadali District of Helmand Province, .

"It's very likely to have happened because visibility was not good, it was raining and cloudy," Chopan said.

He said the child was a girl, not a boy has had been reported elsewhere. The incident happened on Wednesday, hours after another firefight involving U.S. forces in the area.

When asked to confirm the incident, a spokesman for ISAF said:

“ISAF deeply regrets any civilian casualty. ISAF is committed to ensuring that all possible measures are taken to prevent civilian casualties. Coalition officials will work with Afghan officials to determine what happened and why. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family who suffered the loss of a loved one."

American relations with Afghanistan have soured recently as President Hamid Karzai's refuses to sign a security deal that would allow American troops to remain in the country after the large-scale withdrawal of international forces this year.

Alexander Smith reported from London.