Blast kills at least 23 in Afghanista­n cat­tle mar­ket

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

At least 23 civil­ians were killed in Afghanista­n’s south­ern Hel­mand prov­ince and dozens were wounded when rock­ets hit a cat­tle mar­ket on Mon­day, Afghan gov­ern­ment and Tal­iban of­fi­cials said.

The war­ring sides blamed each other for the at­tack on the open-air weekly cat­tle mar­ket in San­gin dis­trict, where hun­dreds of vil­lagers from neigh­bor­ing dis­tricts had gath­ered to trade sheep and goats, Reuters re­ported.

A spokesman for Hel­mand’s gover­nor said sev­eral rock­ets fired by Tal­iban mil­i­tants landed close to the cat­tle mar­ket, killing 23 civil­ians, in­clud­ing chil­dren.

Qari Yousuf Ah­madi, a Tal­iban spokesman said the Afghan army fired sev­eral rounds of mor­tar bombs on civil­ian houses and the cat­tle mar­ket, killing dozens of vil­lagers.

Khushak­yar, who goes by a sin­gle name, said he was try­ing to sell a calf when the rock­ets hit the mar­ket. He said his two neph­ews were killed and his son was wounded.

“I saw around 20 bod­ies on the ground,” he said, adding that dozens were wounded and “live­stock lay dead next to men.”

Some res­i­dents of Hel­mand prov­ince, a Tal­iban strong­hold, said the shelling oc­curred dur­ing fierce clashes be­tween Tal­iban mil­i­tants and gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity forces in res­i­den­tial ar­eas sur­round­ing the mar­ket.

There has been an uptick in vi­o­lence by the Tal­iban against the Afghan gov­ern­ment, even though the in­sur­gents, fight­ing to re­gain power af­ter be­ing ousted in 2001, signed a troop with­drawal agree­ment with the United States in Fe­bru­ary de­signed to lead to peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Afghan gov­ern­ment.

More than 500 civil­ians were killed and 760 oth­ers wounded be­cause of fight­ing in Afghanista­n in the first three months of 2020, the UN As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanista­n (UNAMA) said in late April.


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