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article imageAfghan government air strikes kill 24 civilians

By Ken Hanly     Sep 20, 2020 in Politics
Even while the government is pressing for a ceasefire with the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Afghan military carried out an air strike in Kunduz province targeting the home of a Taliban member. however the attack killed 24 civilians and wounded 6 others.
The air strikes
The first strike hit the targeted house but also one nearby starting fires and trapping some civilians inside. When civilians came from the neighborhood to try and put out the first a second strike was launched killing many more civilians.
Differing reports of casualties
First reports from the Afghan Defense Ministry claimed over 40 Taliban were killed and no civilians. However it later promised an investigation after local reports conflicted with the Ministry's claim. Local MPs confirmed there were civilian deaths. Provincial officials confirmed at least 12 civilians were killed and said there were likely more.
The Taliban did not confirm that they had any casualties and suggested that those killed were mostly civilians. There was concern by Afghan authorities that there had been fighting with the Taliban in Kunduz in recent weeks and that the Taliban might once more try to take control of the northern city.
Air strike was badly timed
The Afghan government has been complaining about Taliban offensives. However, the government strikes have caused even greater civilian deaths that recent Taliban attacks. However, the attacks by both sides may not sabotage peace talks or prevent a ceasefire agreement. In fact they may persuade each side of the value of a ceasefire.
Background
Last week representatives
of the Afghan government and the Taliban held peace talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar to end the long-running war. The negotiations are the result of a deal between the US and the Taliban signed the end of February. As part of the agreement the US agreed to withdraw all forces by May next year. However, the Afghan government was not part of the deal and still needs to come to a separate agreement with the Taliban.
More about Afghan civil war, Afghan civilian deaths in air strikes, Afghan Taliban peace taks
 
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