Dozens killed by Afghan air strikes in northern Kunduz

An Afghan resident is treated at a hospital following an airstrike in Kunduz on April 2, 2018. An Afghan airstrike on a religious school in a Taliban stronghold on April 2 caused multiple casualties, including civilians, an Afghan security source and witnesses said. / AFP / Bashir KHAN SAFI
Updated 03 April 2018
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Dozens killed by Afghan air strikes in northern Kunduz

  • Defense Ministry chief spokesman General Mohammad Radmanesh said the army’s helicopters targeted a “concentration Taliban site”.
  • The Taliban also said a madrassa was hit, and that all the victims were civilians.
KABUL: Dozens of people were killed on Monday in a series of air strikes by the Afghan air force in a district of northern Kunduz province.
Several politicians claimed a madrassa was hit during a graduation ceremony for Islamic students.
Defense Ministry chief spokesman General Mohammad Radmanesh said the army’s helicopters targeted a “concentration Taliban site” in Dasht-e-Archi because militants planned to unleash attacks on government institutions in the district, which has been largely controlled by insurgents for several years.
The attacks were carried out at midday local time, without any involvement by the US-led coalition, he said, adding that 21 Taliban members died in the assault, which left dozens wounded.
Radmanesh denied reports from several senators and two provincial officials that a madrassa was targeted.
The lawmakers said several dozen people were killed, while an unconfirmed report from the province put the total number of dead and wounded at more than 150. One senator, Abdullah Qarloq, said civilians were among the victims, along with Taliban militants.
The Taliban also said a madrassa was hit, and that all the victims were civilians.
“Those responsible for killing civilians and insulting religion will be brought to justice,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an email to Arab News.
A senior government official in Kabul denied that a religious school had been hit, and said all of the casualties were militants.
However, Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan, fears that many of those killed might have been civilians.
“Under laws of war, targeted killings must be carried out in compliance with principle of proportionality,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is latest incident in which airstrikes aimed at killing insurgent leaders may have disproportionately killed civilians.”
The attack comes a week after allegations that a group of civilian students in a seminary were killed in a similar air strike in western Farah province by an Afghan air force attack, and days after reports of civilian casualties in northeastern Badakhshan province.
Since assuming power over three years ago, President Ashraf Ghani’s government has mostly remained silent about civilian deaths in Afghanistan caused by Afghan government forces and the US-led coalition.
More than 40 patients and hospital staff were killed in sustained US air strikes on a French-run hospital in 2015 after the Taliban briefly captured Kunduz city.


Afghan Taliban to meet US officials in UAE

Updated 17 December 2018
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Afghan Taliban to meet US officials in UAE

  • The meetings come as diplomatic efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict have intensified
  • The Taliban say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace

KABUL: Representatives from the Afghan Taliban will meet US officials in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, the movement’s main spokesman said as diplomatic moves toward agreeing to the basis for talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan continue.
Zabihullah Mujahid said representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE would also take part in the meeting, which follows at least two meetings between Taliban officials and US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar.
He made the announcement in a statement on Twitter.
The meetings come as diplomatic efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict have intensified, although the Taliban have so far refused to deal directly with the Western-backed government in Kabul, which it considers illegitimate.
The Taliban say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace but have said that issues including mutual recognition with the Kabul government, constitutional changes and women’s rights can be negotiated.