AIRSTRIKES KILL 21 CIVIL­IANS IN AFGHANISTAN, SAYS LAW­MAKER

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - COMMENT -

KABUL: Airstrikes in Afghanistan’s south­ern Hel­mand province have killed 21 civil­ians, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, a law­maker from the re­gion said on Sun­day.

Mo­ham­mad Hashim Alkozai said 13 civil­ians were killed in one strike and eight in another. Both were car­ried out late Fri­day in the San­gin dis­trict, where heavy fight­ing is un­der­way be­tween Nato-backed Afghan forces and the Tal­iban. Alkozai said at least five other people were wounded in the airstrikes.

“In­no­cent people, women and chil­dren, are the only vic­tims of the airstrikes,” he said, adding that the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions have stoked pub­lic anger.

Omer Zwak, the pro­vin­cial gover­nor’s spokesman, said in­sur­gents fired on Afghan forces from a civil­ian area. He con­firmed that airstrikes had killed civil­ians but could not pro­vide fur­ther in­for­ma­tion. He says an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched.

Alkozai said he has raised con­cerns about civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in par­lia­ment and with govern­ment of­fi­cials, but that they have taken no ac­tion. Afghan forces are strug­gling to com­bat the Tal­iban, who hold sway over nearly half the coun­try and carry out daily at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces.

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment, the Afghan in­tel­li­gence ser­vice said it had ar­rested three mem­bers of the Haqqani group, a Tal­iban fac­tion be­lieved to be based in Pak­istan, in con­nec­tion with two bomb­ings in Kabul that killed and wounded dozens of people. The Na­tional Direc­torate of Se­cu­rity said the three sus­pects con­fessed to tak­ing part in a truck bomb­ing near the Ger­man Em­bassy in 2017 that killed at least 90 people.

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