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Afghan forces blamed for civilian casualties in Helmand

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KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has blamed the Afghan security forces for killing of over 20 civilians in a mortar attacks in Sangin district of Helmand province.

“UNAMA’s initial impartial findings indicate Afghan National Army mortars inflicted heavy civilian casualties Monday at market in Sangin, Afghanistan. Multiple credible sources assert that the ANA fired lethal mortars in response to Taliban fire, missing intended target,” the agency said.

In a series of tweets, the UN has called on both parties to must stop fighting in civilian-populated areas. “Such indirect fire incidents in ground engagements cause 1000s of civilian casualties each year. Dozens were killed and injured in Monday’s incident, including children. Final number of casualties to be verified,” it added.

The UN urges Afghan government to set up independent investigation team to probe the incident. UNAMA is prepared to assist all parties, the victims and their families in establishing the facts.

At least 25 civilians were killed and 15 others received injuries in several blasts in a local cattle market in Sangin district, security officials said.

The fatalities came after four mortars landed in a cattle market. The government and the Taliban both blamed each other for initiating the attack.

Provincial governor office said that the Taliban group had fired four mortars followed by a car bomb blast that killed 23 civilians.

But the Taliban said that mortars were fired from an Afghan army base. The army’s 2015 Corps has denied the allegation, saying that the Taliban fired mortars to target the Afghan army base that caused civilian deaths.

Sangin District Governor, Rohullah Basit accused the Taliban for the attack. “Taliban rebels fired rockets that killed 25 civilians and wounded 20 others.”

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