Monday, October 21, 2019 | ePaper

Afghan militants targetted:30 killed in air strike

Deadly Taliban attack destroys hospital: 20 killed

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Damaged ambulances in Qalat on Thursday. Internet photo

Reuters, Kabul :
At least 30 civilians were killed and 40 injured in an air strike conducted by the Afghan security forces, backed by US air support, in eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Thursday.
The attack, on Wednesday night was aimed at destroying a hideout used by ISIS militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field in Wazir Tangi area of Khogyani district in Nangarhar province, three government officials told Reuters. Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in eastern Nangarhar province said a drone strike killed 30 workers in a pine nut field and at least 40 others were injured.
The defense ministry in Kabul confirmed the strike conducted by Afghan and US forces was aimed at fighters belonging to ISIS, but refused to share details of civilians casualty caused by the attack.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the air strike. "The government is investigating the incident, so far nine bodies were collected from the attack site near a pine nut field." US forces in Kabul were not immediately available for a comment.
Malik Rahat Gul, a tribal elder in Wazir Tangi said the air strike happened at a time when tired workers, mainly daily wage earners, had gathered near their tent after harvesting pine nuts in a field nearby.
"The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them," said Gul.
BBC Online adds: Twenty people have died after a truck packed with explosives was detonated by Taliban militants outside a hospital in southern Afghanistan. Many of the victims in the attack in Qalat city were doctors  and patients, according to local media reports.
Reports have since emerged of at least another 15 civilian deaths, this time in an air strike aimed at Islamic State militants in the east.
Last month, at least 473 civilians were killed in the conflict, the BBC found.
Civilians made up a fifth of all known casualties during the month of August, our research revealed.
A senior defence ministry official in the capital told Reuters news agency the "huge" bomb had been carried by a "mini-truck" before it was detonated near the hospital in Qalat. It was the main health facility in Zabul province, according to reports. Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal said it had been "destroyed". The Taliban have said they were targeting government intelligence offices, next door to the hospital. The final death toll from Thursday morning's attack is still unclear. Zabul's deputy governor said 20 were confirmed dead, with some 90 injured.
Media captionPeople in the capital of Helmand province tell the BBC whether they think the Taliban are serious about peace People at the scene described seeing women and children pulled from the rubble.
"It was horrific," university student Atif Baloch said, according to news agency AFP.
Ambulances have been ferrying casualties to hospital in the neighbouring province of Kandahar.
The Afghan defence ministry says an attack took place on Wednesday night in Khogyani district in Nangarhar province which was aimed at Islamic State fighters, according to Reuters news agency.
But a Nangarhar security official confirmed to the BBC that 15 civilians had been killed and six others wounded in the strike.
According to reports, those killed had been working in a pine nut field.
"The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them," tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters.
An investigation into the incident is being carried out.
The Afghan conflict continues to be one of the deadliest in the world. The BBC found an average of 74 people were killed every day throughout August.
Hopes had risen that the 18-year conflict could be coming to an end after it was revealed the Taliban and US had almost reached a peace deal in early September.
But US President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement after a Taliban attack in Kabul killed a US soldier and 11 others on 6 September.
The Taliban have continued to carry out near daily attacks since then, with national elections due at the end of the month. On Tuesday, the group targeted an election rally where President Ashraf Ghani had been due to speak, leaving 26 people dead.
However, despite the Taliban attacks hitting the headlines, United Nations statistics have shown more civilians were killed by Afghan and US forces in the first half of 2019 than by insurgents.

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