Security forces mistakenly kill six civilians in Afghanistan

Updated May 26, 2019

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An Afghan security forces raid against Taliban fighters in eastern Nangarhar province mistakenly killed at least six civilians, including a woman and two children, provincial officials said on Saturday. — AFP/File
An Afghan security forces raid against Taliban fighters in eastern Nangarhar province mistakenly killed at least six civilians, including a woman and two children, provincial officials said on Saturday. — AFP/File

KABUL: An Afghan security forces raid against Taliban fighters in eastern Nangarhar province mistakenly killed at least six civilians, including a woman and two children, provincial officials said on Saturday.

Attahullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said 10 insurgents were also killed in the Friday night attack in Sherzad district.

The civilians’ vehicle was exiting the area right after the raid and security forces thought that Taliban fighters were trying to escape, so they opened fire and mistakenly killed the civilians, Khogyani said.

Ajmal Omer, a provincial councilman, said villagers carrying the victims’ bodies in a procession in the provincial capital of Jalalabad demanded justice for the victims’ families.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Saturday it was concerned about the heavy toll on civilians in the conflict during Ramazan, and urged parties to do more to prevent casualties.

It condemned the insurgents for incidents in which civilians have been deliberately targeted and said that during the first week of Ramazan, the Taliban killed six civilians and wounded 28 others in a premeditated attack against a non-governmental organisation in Kabul.

The statement said the UN mission is looking into the attack inside a mosque in the capital of Kabul during Friday prayers. Two people, including the prayer leader, were killed and 16 others were wounded.

“Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians can never be justified and amount to war crimes,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan. “An attack in a mosque, especially at a time of prayer during Ramadan, is particularly heinous,” Yamamoto was quoted in the statement.

Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on an armoured vehicle belonging to Romanian Nato forces at Kandahar air base. Five Romanian Nato soldiers were injured.

Separately, Colonel Dave Butler, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman, said a Nato helicopter had a hard landing due to mechanical failure in southern Helmand province. “There was no hostile fire or enemy contact involved,” he said in a statement. Both Afghan and US personnel were injured but were all in stable condition and expected to recover, he said. He said the aircraft was destroyed.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2019