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At least 21 civilians killed in Helmand airstrikes

AT News Report

KABUL: At least 21 civilians, including women and children have been killed in two separate airstrikes in Sangin district of southern Helmand province, a member of the parliament said Sunday.

However, a provincial council member putted the death toll to 13, while governor spokesman said he has no exact figures of casualty, but confirmed airstrikes pounded the district, as a result 20 Taliban insurgents were killed, four others wounded.

Senator Mohammad Hashim Alkozai said 13 civilians were killed in one strike and eight in another. Both were carried out late Friday in the Sangin district, where heavy fighting is underway between NATO-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban, Associated Press reported. Alkozai said at least five other people were wounded in the airstrikes.

“Innocent people, women and children, are the only victims of the airstrikes,” he said, adding that the military operations have stoked public anger.”

“We can confirm airstrikes occurred in Sangin district, in which a number of civilians were killed and wounded,’ Provincial Governor Spokesman Omar Zwak told Afghanistan Times, but he had no exact figures of casualty toll.

A delegation has been assigned to investigate the report of civilian casualties, he added.

13 civilians—children and women among them—have been killed and six others received injures, a Provincial Council Member Majeed Akhundzada told Afghanistan Times, adding the airstrike carried out in Musazai area of Sangin district on Friday night.

He strongly reacted to the civilian deaths, calling on Afghan and foreign forces to pay serious attention to prevent such deadly act in the future. “The residents cant’ take it anymore, this is not firs time. Time and again there have been incidents of civilian casualties.”

Six civilians were killed in the attack, Husain Alizada, another Provincial Council Member said.

“It was conducted by the Afghan Air Forces where eight Taliban insurgents were killed, and some ammunition belongs to them destroyed.”

Civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan from explosive weapons rose by more than a third last year, against a downward trend globally, according to a survey seen by the Guardian.

Most of the 4,260 civilians killed or injured in explosions in the country in 2018 – up from 3,119 in 2017 – were victims of suicide attacks, found a reportby Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

Globally, however, the picture was different. The report recorded a total of 22,335 civilian deaths and injuries from the use of explosive weapons in 2018, compared with 31,904 the previous year, suggesting civilian casualties fell by about a third. There was also a 26% decrease in attacks recorded on populated areas around the world.

In total, 78% of civilians casualties recorded in Afghanistan were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – 62% in suicide attacks, AOAV found. Civilian casualties caused by Isis explosives in Afghanistan rose by 90% compared with the year before. The number of civilian casualties from airstrikes almost doubled, from 238 in 2017 to 463 last year. The report attributed the increase – which the organisation said was probably underestimated, given that not all casualties are reported – to the US conducting a greater number of strikes aimed at the increased military presence.

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