Senior Taliban chieftains killed in Kunduz airstrike;An ensuing sporadic gunfire by panicked militants kills dozens of civilians
By Mansoor Faizy and Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: A military air strike targeting a gathering of senior Taliban commanders at a religious school in northern Kunduz province is reported to have killed 18 Taliban chieftains. Air forces pounded the Taliban with machinegun helicopters, authorities said.
Ministry of Defense Spokesperson Gen. Radmanish said on Tuesday over 18 Taliban chieftains for northeastern Afghanistan were killed and 12 more sustained critical injuries during the Monday airstrike in Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz province.
The airstrike was carried out after obtaining critical intelligence information substantiated with GPS-captured photos pinpointing the exact coordinates of a gathering of key Taliban chieftains at a religious school observing a ritual, he reckoned, insisting that the strikes targeted the location where the Taliban leaders gathered, and “any civilian casualties have been a result of sporadic gunfire by panicked Taliban militants at people right after the air strike.”
However, spokesperson of the 209th Shaheen Corps Haneef Rezaee has a different figure of the death toll of Taliban commanders in Dasht-e-Archi. He told Afghanistan Times the Taliban casualties had risen to 45 dead and 25 wounded.
“Among the dead were as many as eleven senior Taliban leaders including Mawlawi Baryal, member of Quetta Shura, and his comrade Mawlawi Rahmatullah, a Pakistani citizen, Mawlawi Wahid district Chief for Dasht-e-Archi, Qari Amar, Taliban commander in Dasht-e-Archi, a teacher of Taliban’s Red Unit, Mawlawi Aziz a Taliban military member, Mawlawi Rahmat and Abdul Wahab, senior Taliban commanders, Mawlawi ZiaulHaq, Taliban commission’s ex-chief, Hamidullah, Taliban’s commission head for northeastern zone
More 25 wounded militants were including eight commanders and eight members of Jundullah, the Uzbekistani terrorist network. “Before the airstrikes, our helicopters flew to the area to obtain intelligence information, but came under heavy and light gunfire. Many military vehicles belonging to the Taliban were also spotted close by.
Meanwhile, Police Chief of Dasht-e-Archi district told Afghanistan Times that 87 people including the Taliban commanders and civilians had been killed during and after the airstrikes. He said the key Taliban chieftain had gathered to observe a graduation ritual of students in a religious madrasa, in which civilians had presence too.
There are several counts of casualties. A tribal chieftain from the area of Haji Naim told Afghanistan Times that around 100 civilians including 57 children were killed and wounded in the strikes. “Based on my information, over 8 Taliban militants were killed and over 6 others sustained injuries.
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