Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

Pentagon refutes Afghan civilian casualty claims

US Airstrikes Kill 16 Civilians in Afghanistan: Officials US-led airstrike kills 16 civilians in eastern Afghanistan
Sammy Stanley | 13 August, 2017, 06:06

Saaz Wali Shinwari, the district governor of Haska Mina in Nangarhar province, said the raid was carried out by USA troops although there was no official confirmation from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The latest victims died Thursday afternoon when the vehicles they were traveling in were hit by USA airstrikes believed to be targeting Islamic State militants in the area, Wali said.

The United States now has about 8،400 soldiers in Afghanistan with another 5،000 troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Airstrikes by U.S. warplanes have also significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of the Taliban militant group and other terror outfits in the crisis-hit country. "There was zero chance of civilian casualties".

"We are deeply concerned by the harrowing reports of civilians being killed and atrocities being committed", UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said they were unable to provide any information when contacted by AFP.

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The US-led coalition struck a civilian vehicle in Haska Mina district late on Thursday, Tolo News quoted Nangarhar Governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani as saying. "For the time being, we do not have a precise figure about the casualties", he told AFP.

Taliban insurgents also are active in the Afghan province. Local officials said Taliban insurgents and Islamic State loyalists jointly carried out the bloodshed.

However the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said a preliminary investigation suggested that the two groups, which are normally bitter rivals, acted together.

But the Taliban denied involvement, saying official claims implicating the group were "baseless propaganda" against it. Claims of "extremists" are common enough for the Pentagon at first blush, but with the casualties heavily women and children, it won't stand up to much scrutiny. In addition, three people were beheaded.

Meanwhile, the U.N Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it had completed its probe into the killings of dozens of civilians in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul and promised to issue its findings soon.

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