Airstrikes in western Afghanistan killed 45 people, including civilians and Taliban, local officials said on Wednesday.
Ali Ahmad Faqir Yar, the Governor of Adraskan district in the western Afghanistan province of Herat, said at least eight civilians were among the dead. “Forty-five people had been killed so far in airstrikes by security forces in the Kham Ziarat area, Taliban were among those killed,” he said.
It was unclear how many of the remaining 37 were civilians and how many were members of the Taliban.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said it was investigating allegations of civilian casualties in attacks by Afghan forces in the area.
“The results of the investigation will be shared with the public and the media. The National Defense and Security Forces have the responsibility to protect the lives and property of the people, in this regard, they use all the opportunities and facilities and will not spare any effort,” the statement said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi said eight civilians were killed and 12 wounded, but didn’t mention any Taliban casualties.
Habib Amini, a local official in neighbouring Guzara district, confirmed the incident and that 45 were killed and more injured. A spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they had not taken part in Wednesday’s airstrikes.
The United States is winding back troops under an agreement with the Taliban struck in February, which was meant to pave the way to formal peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government. However, disagreement over the release of prisoners demanded by the Taliban and rising violence around the country have hampered progress, and talks have yet to start.
U.S. condemns strikes
U.S. Condemning the airstrikes, U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter, “In Herat, photos and eyewitness accounts suggest many civilians, including children, are among the victims of an Afghan airstrike. We condemn the attack and support an investigation,” U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter, adding that the United States also “deplored” recent Taliban attacks.
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