UN confirms deaths of 23 civilians in Afghan air strike

Special UN confirms deaths of 23 civilians in Afghan air strike
In this file photo, an injured boy receives treatment at a hospital after an airstrike in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP)
Updated 30 November 2018

UN confirms deaths of 23 civilians in Afghan air strike

UN confirms deaths of 23 civilians in Afghan air strike
  • Majority of those killed included women and children
  • Officials say it was a countermeasure against an attack by the Taliban

KABUL: The United Nations has confirmed that as many as 23 civilians were killed in an air strike during a foreign-led operation in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Tuesday.
In a statement detailing the initial findings of the incident, it indicated that a vast majority of those killed were women and children. Local reports said that all the victims belonged to one family.
The Afghan government and officials from the US-led military said that the air strike was launched after their joint forces came under an attack during an anti-Taliban operation in the Gamrsir district on Tuesday night. However, several days later, they have yet to confirm who carried out the attack.
“Preliminary findings from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicate that as many as 23 civilians were killed and three injured on Tuesday in an airstrike in Garmser district of Helmand province, during operations conducted by pro-government forces against Taliban in the area,” the UN’s statement read.
Similar to the attacks of the past years, civilians have borne the brunt of the war’s latest chapter too, which began with the Taliban’s ouster in a US-led attack in late 2001.
An increase in air attacks by Afghan and US-led troops have claimed more non-combatants’ lives since last summer when Washington announced its new strategy which pushes for more aerial strikes against militants. 
“UNAMA has this year recorded a sharp increase in civilian casualties from aerial attacks in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017,” the statement read, adding that the “649 civilian casualties recorded between January 1 and 30 September 2018 is more than the number of civilian casualties from aerial operations recorded” in the entire year, every year since the UNAMA began its systematic civilian casualty documentation in 2009.
The UN reminded all parties which are part of the conflict to uphold their obligations and protect civilians from harm.