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Peace negotiator, 5 of his kin, killed in air strike

KABUL: An air strike in volatile Paktia province has reportedly killed a prominent member of the High Peace Council(HPC) and five of his family members in Zurmat district, officials said on Monday, the latest casualties from a surge in air operations into Taliban hideouts amid painstaking efforts to galvanize peace negotiations.

A tribal chieftain and an HPC councilmember Mohammad Naeem was killed along with his brother, a son and three other relativesafter bombs were dropped on his house, said Jannat Khan Mangal, Paktia peace council chief.

Following the tragedy, relatives of the victims staged a protest in Gardez, capital city of Paktia, carrying corpses of the councilmember and his skin in a car.

According to a Zurmat district resident, Afghan and coalition forces launched the air and ground operations in the area.

On the other hand, Paktia security officials confirmed operations, but said they had no accurate information about casualties and identities of those killed.

Airstrikes have recently increased in many provinces of the country against insurgents, but sometimes they caused casualties to civilians.

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