Airstrikes in Afghanistan kill 45 civilians and Taleban members: Officials

Afghans receive medical treatment after the air strikes, in Herat, Afghanistan, July 22, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HERAT, AFGHANISTAN (REUTERS) - Airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan killed 45 people, including civilians and Taliban, local officials said on Wednesday (July 22).

Ali Ahmad Faqir Yar, the governor of Adraskan District in the eastern Afghanistan province of Herat, said at least eight civilians were among the dead.

"Forty-five people had been killed so far in airstrikes by security forces in the Kham Ziarat area, Taleban were among those killed," he said.

It was unclear how many of the remaining 37 were civilians and how many were members of the Taleban.

Afghanistan's Ministry of Defence said it was investigating allegations of civilian casualities in attacks by Afghan forces in the area.

"The results of the investigation will be shared with the public and the media. The National Defence and Security Forces have the responsibility to protect the lives and property of the people, in this regard, they use all the opportunities and facilities and will not spare any effort," the statement said.

Habib Amini, a local official in neighbouring Guzara district, confirmed the incident and that 45 were killed and more injured.

A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan said they had not taken part in Wednesday's airstrikes.

The United States is winding back troops under an agreement with the Taleban struck in February, which was meant to pave the way to formal peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government.

However, disagreement over the release of prisoners demanded by the Taleban and rising violence around the country have hampered progress, and talks have yet to start.

Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taleban spokesman, said in a statement that two airstrikes in Heart had killed eight civilians and wounded 12.

Two local officials confirmed there had been two rounds of airstrikes.

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