New York: The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has said that it is currently investigating allegations that at least 32 civilians were killed and a further 19 injured in airstrikes in Kunduz city last Thursday.
“The loss of civilian life is unacceptable and undermines efforts toward building peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in a Press release issued yesterday.
“When conducting aerial operations, international military forces should take all feasible measures to minimize civilian harm, including full analysis of the context for aerial strikes,” he added.
In the early hours of 3 November, a series of airstrikes were carried out in Buz-e-Kandahari area of Kunduz city, following ground operations conducted by international and Afghan security forces there, in which pro-Government forces came under attack by anti-Government elements.
In a statement, United States Forces-Afghanistan acknowledged it had conducted air-to-ground engagements at that time in that area, with the commander, General John W. Nicholson, expressing his deep regret for the loss of innocent lives.
Preliminary findings indicate that the aerial operation killed at least 32 civilians and injured an additional 19 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. UNAMA also received reports that the air strikes severely damaged at least 22 houses.
UNAMA urged authorities to ensure an independent, impartial and prompt investigation at the earliest opportunity, and for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure accountability, compensation for victims and the prevention of such incidents in the future.
In the past week, the Mission has documented 46 separate incidents of conflict-related violence, resulting in severe civilian harm, including deaths and injuries from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, aerial attacks from rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, targeted killings and explosive remnants of war.
Between 30 October and 5 November, the mission documented a preliminary figure of 206 civilian casualties, 95 deaths and 111 injuries.
Image Courtesy: UNAMA/Shamsuddin Hamedi
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