World Bulletin / News Desk
NATO airstrikes killed dozens of civilians in northern Kunduz province Thursday, local Afghan officials and media outlets said.
There are conflicting figures about the exact number of casualties in the remote area. While some put it at around 30 dead, other local media outlets claimed that more than 100 civilians died in the airstrikes carried out in Boz Kandahari area. Women and children are among the dead.
Mir Aqa Etebar, director of the Disasters Management Authority, told Anadolu Agency that around 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes between Taliban and Afghan and coalition forces during the last two days in the area.
Asadullah Umerkhail, provincial governor, said two Taliban groups remain under siege of the Special Forces, who killed 28 militants in the area. He confirmed that a number of civilians had been killed in the airstrikes.
Kunduz residents took to the streets Thursday to protest against the tragedy. They blamed Afghan and American forces for indiscriminately bombing residential areas.
In a message, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced the formation of a fact-finding committee to probe the incident.
“The president, after getting to know about the civilian casualties, got seriously distressed, and sternly directed the Kunduz governor and Afghan National Security and Defense Forces stationed in this province to take extra care to avoid civilian casualties during the operations,” it said.
“President Ghani has constituted an investigation committee that would probe all aspects of the incident and in light of the findings legal actions would be taken against the perpetrators of this crime against humanity,” it added.
Two U.S. soldiers and three Afghan Special Forces members also died during a clash with the Taliban in the area Thursday.
In a statement on its website, NATO said: “Two U.S. service members died as a result of wounds sustained during operations in Kunduz district, Kunduz province today [Thursday]. Two other U.S. service members were wounded in the operation.”
About the civilian deaths in airstrikes, NATO’s Resolute Support official twitter page sent out two posts: “Airstrikes were conducted in #Kunduz to defend friendly forces under fire. All civilian casualty claims will be investigated.
“To clarify, U.S. forces conducted strikes in #Kunduz to defend friendly forces. All civilian casualty claims will be investigated.”