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Civilian casualties in Kandahar: Watchdog seeks prompt, impartial probe

AT-KABUL: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has emphasized on the government and the US forces to initiate a proper investigation into the alleged civilian casualties occurred during a military offensive by the Special Force Unit in southern Kandahar province between January 31 and February 1.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Watchdog has said that the security personnel involved in abuses, including non-reporting of possible war crimes must be held accountable.

Citing official reports, the statement said the Special Forces Unit of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), backed by US airstrikes kicked off a military offensive on January 31 against Taliban militants in the Band-e-Timor area of Maiwand district and Reg area of Ranjwai district in which 50 Taliban militants and at least 20 civilians were killed.

“When the airplanes came we fled. But as the people were running away the forces were shooting them,” an eyewitness said as quoted by the HRW.

Security personnel dragged some individuals out of their homes and opened fire on them, the statement added, referencing local residents.

On the other side, NDS announced detention of 38 men during the operation.

“The alleged deaths of at least twenty civilians in Band-e-Timor demand a prompt and impartial investigation,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Summarily executing people in custody, whether they are fighters or civilians, are a war crime. Only a full investigation can uncover all who may be responsible,” she added.

“The Afghan government’s failure to investigate past possible crimes by Kandahar’s security forces makes an investigation of this incident all the more important,” Gossman said.

“Unlawful killings won’t stop unless there is real accountability,” she said.

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