Thirteen civilians in the same family were killed and 15 wounded in a US air strike on Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said on Thursday.
US and Afghan forces said they launched an investigation into the incident that an Afghan official said also killed more than a dozen insurgents hiding in a house in the village of Dasht-e-Bari in Logar province near Kabul on Wednesday.
A few days after Afghan authorities reported that the country’s air force had killed 13 civilians in separate strikes against a Taliban base in the western province of Herat.
“In the operation, US forces were attacked by the Taliban and foreign forces overturned the fire and forced Taliban insurgents to hide in nearby civilian homes,” Saleem Saleh told AFP. spokesman for the governor of Logar.
“Then foreign forces called for air support and bombed the civilian house that caused civilian casualties.” Saleh said the victims were from the same family and that most of the dead were women and children.
“I heard two big explosions and when I left my house I saw that the building that was bombed was completely destroyed,” Nazar Khan Kochi told AFP. “We took the corpses of rubble and debris and buried them.
“It was a very painful day for us,” he said, describing the incident as a “massacre” and not having Taliban among the dead. The photos showed dead women and children wrapped in shrouds while the parents were ready to bury them.
Logar provincial police spokesman Shahpoor Ahmadzai confirmed the number of casualties. The United States is the only foreign force currently conducting air strikes in Afghanistan.
The US military said it had launched a formal investigation into the incident three weeks after a US air strike killed 11 civilians in neighboring Nangarhar province, charges they unjustly denied.
“US and Afghan forces take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and work with our Afghan partners to determine the facts surrounding this incident (in Logar),” it said in a statement.
Ordinary Afghans have suffered the weight of the conflict that began in October 2001, with civilian deaths this year.
In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians died and more than 3,500 were injured, and deaths in Kabul accounted for almost 20 percent of the toll, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance in Afghanistan published last month.