12 reported killed in government air attack on Afghan mosque

Posted Oct 23, 2020 by Ken Hanly
After deadly attacks by the Taliban in the northern Takhar province in Afghanistan, the Afghan military responded with air attacks against a mosque in the area that apparently was believed to be being used as a base by the Taliban.
Abdullah Abdullah (L)  head of the peace process for the Afghan government  speaks the opening sessi...
Abdullah Abdullah (L), head of the peace process for the Afghan government, speaks the opening session of the peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha on September 12, 2020
Casualties from the attack
Local provincial officials reported that the attack killed 12 people and wounded 14. The assault in a Takhar village took place on Wednesday as Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces clashed in the area according to provincial police spokesperson Khali Aseer. Aseer said: “The air strike was carried out when the victims were busy studying the Holy Koran.” Aseer added that those killed included a prayer leader as well as 14 of his students along with 14 wounded. Mohammad Hejri a spokesperson for the Takhar provincial government claimed that the strike killed three children.
Defense Ministry offers differing account
A large civilian toll would be embarrassing for the Afghan Air Force and the government. The Afghan Defense Ministry claimed that no civilians were killed and that everyone inside the mosque were Taliban. The claim seems hollow given that at least some and probably a majority of those killed were children. However Vice President Saleh threatened legal action against the governor for reporting that the slain were children saying that this claim was baseless and that many of the 12 killed were commanders in the Taliban. Given that the reports were by local provincial authorities such as Aseer and Hejri as well as the governor of the province the claims hardly seem baseless