Officials Investigate Contradicting Civilian Death Tolls In Afghan Airstrike

According to officials, Afghan and U.S. military personnel are investigating reports that about 13 civilians were killed during an operation in Kunduz.

The U.S. military said it had launched a probe into what is believed to be a joint U.S.-Afghan operation on Nov. 3.

Afghan Defense Ministry said security officers were assigned to investigate the incident and the ministry’s spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, added that a death toll of civilians remains unconfirmed.

However, there are contradicting reports regarding the number of casualties from the incident. Council member Khosh Bawar Nasratyar said 13 people were killed but a spokesman for the provincial governor, Nematullah Temor, reported only one casualty.

Temor said other reports of civilian casualties were “untrue and baseless”.

The Afghan Special Forces said approximately 48 insurgents were killed but denied any civilian casualties, citing evacuations from the targeted area prior to the strike.

“There is a need for a proper investigation to prove these allegations and we will launch it soon,” Ghulam Qader Akbari, the governor of Chahardara, said.

Unconfirmed reports purporting the deaths of as many as 60 people, accompanied by alleged images of the aftermath, were circulated on social media.

On Saturday, NATO-led Resolute Support mission confirmed the incident had occurred and an investigation was underway but gave no further details.

“We are aware of allegations regarding the potential for civilian casualties as the result of a combined operation in northern Afghanistan,” Resolute Support spokesman Capt. Tom Gresback said in a statement.

“Resolute Support takes all allegations of civilian casualties and the responsibility of human life seriously, and is assessing the facts surrounding this incident.”

Former President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident, but there has been no comment from the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

U.S. airstrikes have increased since U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for Afghanistan in August.

Civilian casualties from joint U.S.-Afghan airstrikes increased by 52 percent in the first nine months of 2017 when compared to 2016.

Top photo | In this Oct. 2, 2015 file photo, Afghan security forces inspect the site of a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo)

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