Publish dateMonday 11 March 2019 - 00:58
Story Code : 181187
13 Civilians Reported Killed in U.S. Airstrikes in Afghanistan
 At least 13 civilians, including several children, were killed in American airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan that were carried out in support of an Afghan-led operation against the Taliban, local officials and tribal elders said on Sunday.
AVA- Members of a C.I.A.-sponsored Afghan strike force called in air support after coming under fire on Saturday as they mounted an assault on Taliban fighters in the district of Hesarak in Nangarhar Province, the officials said.
The airstrikes hit two houses in the village of Naser Khil, said a tribal elder, Ruzi Khan Maruf. In one house, the village’s lone doctor, his wife and their five teenage daughters were killed, Mr. Maruf said by telephone. In the other, the doctor’s brother, his wife and their four children — three teenage girls and a boy — reportedly died. The brother was an Afghan soldier, Mr. Maruf said.
Shah Mahmood Miakhel, the governor of Nangarhar Province, said an important Taliban commander had also been killed in the airstrikes. The exact number of civilians killed was unclear, he said.
A spokeswoman for the American-led NATO mission in Afghanistan confirmed the airstrikes but did not directly address the reports of civilian casualties, saying only that the coalition was looking into the matter.
“In self-defense, precision airstrikes were used to support the troops on the ground,” said the spokeswoman, Sgt. First Class Debra Richardson, adding that the Afghans had been targeting a Taliban operations center. “We are fighting in a complex environment against those who intentionally kill and hide behind civilians. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy and accountability, and we are looking into this.”
American commanders say they follow strict procedures to try to ensure no civilians are present before airstrikes are authorized. They also often accuse insurgents of using civilians as shields, as Sergeant Richardson did on Sunday.
Afghan strike teams, trained and overseen by the C.I.A., have been an effective force against some of the country’s most brutal militant groups. But they have also been linked to widespread abuses, carrying out torture and killings with near impunity. They operate in parallel with the United States military, but under looser rules.
In recent months, the American military has increased attacks against the Taliban, seeking leverage as American negotiators hold peace talks with the militants. Civilian deaths from airstrikes rose 39 percent during the first nine months of 2018, compared with the same period the year before, according to the United Nations.
Last month, at least 10 civilians were reported killed in American airstrikes in southern Helmand Province.
The issue of civilian casualties was raised in January during the talks between the Taliban and American representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital. Negotiators from both sides are meeting again now, in talks that have gone into a 14th day.
In another deadly episode over the weekend, three civilians, including a woman and two children, were shot and killed during a nighttime raid in Wardak Province, said Shafiullah Hotak, a member of the provincial council. A Taliban commander was also killed in the operation, he said.
Post a comment
Your Name
Your Email Address