After Lethal Insider Assault, U.S. Airstrikes Kill 14 Civilians, Afghans Say

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — After the second firefight previously 10 days between American troopers and their Afghan allies, at the very least 14 civilians, most of them ladies and youngsters, have been killed in an airstrike on Saturday in northern Kunduz province, in accordance with Afghan officers. A minimum of 4 Afghan troopers have been additionally killed.

A spokeswoman for the American navy confirmed the assault, however blamed the end result on the Taliban.

“We’re preventing in a fancy atmosphere and this firefight is a major instance of the challenges Afghan and coalition forces face daily,” stated Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson. “The Taliban have been hiding in civilian houses and maneuvered out and in of compounds with none concern for the households dwelling inside.”

The episode on Saturday got here a day after two members of an American Particular Forces unit and 4 Afghan Particular Forces troopers have been killed throughout a joint operation in Gul Tepa District, on the outskirts of Kunduz metropolis, and concerned a number of the similar forces, in accordance with Afghan official accounts. The insurgents have been reportedly massing on the outskirts of town, which they’ve twice overrun, in 2015 and in 2016.

The most recent episode started round three a.m. Saturday, after a convoy of American and Afghan Particular Forces left the world of the day past’s fight and an armored automobile utilized by the People broke down as they have been heading to a safety checkpoint. When the troopers bought out to repair the automobile, an Afghan soldier close by opened fireplace on them; Afghan officers described him as a Taliban insider who intentionally provoked the assault.

The People fired again on the attacker, and Afghan troopers stationed in a close-by outpost returned fireplace at them, not realizing what had occurred, in accordance with Mohammed Ibrahim, the commander of Afghan Native Police in Kunduz Province, who described it as an accident set off by the insider who first opened fireplace.

“The mixed Afghan and coalition floor pressure was fired on by an unknown assailant at shut vary from the checkpoint in addition to from two different instructions,” Sergeant Richardson stated. “The hearth from the enemy was indiscriminate and got here from a number of instructions.”

Commander Ibrahim stated the 2 allies exchanged fireplace for 20 minutes earlier than there have been airstrikes, which he stated had killed 12 civilians and 6 troopers. After looking for out if any Afghan models within the space have been beneath fireplace, Sergeant Richardson stated, the People known as in airstrikes, bringing the preventing to an finish.

Nangayalay, an area police commander within the space (who like many Afghans has just one title), additionally confirmed that sequence of occasions. One of many airstrikes, he stated, struck a home, the place a big household of refugees had taken shelter a month earlier; 14 relations have been killed. The American bombs additionally struck the Afghan outpost, with from 4 to eight Afghan troopers killed, in accordance with various Afghan estimates.

Safiullah Amiri, deputy chief of the provincial council in Kunduz, additionally confirmed that account. “Clashes erupted between Afghan troopers within the outpost and American forces accompanied by Afghan Particular Forces, then People known as for the air assist.” He additionally stated 4 Afghan troopers and 14 civilians have been killed.

An Afghan senator, Mawlawi Abdullah Qarloq, stated he was from the identical village and knew the victims; he offered an inventory of their names. Different native officers stated that of the 14, at the very least eight have been youngsters, and 4 have been ladies.

Neighbors took most of the victims’ our bodies to Kunduz metropolis, the place they staged a protest march, however have been turned away from their supposed vacation spot, the governor’s workplace, and went to the hospital as an alternative.

Sergeant Richardson confirmed that the American navy was conscious of studies of “noncombatant casualty claims from these airstrikes.” Nonetheless, she added, “We keep the best to have interaction the enemy in self-defense and we take each measure to forestall civilian casualties, even because the Taliban deliberately cover behind ladies and youngsters.”

The American spokeswoman additionally advised that witnesses to civilian casualties might need been coerced: “There are a number of Afghan studies from the world of the Taliban coercing and beating native Afghan civilians to allege civilians have been killed.”

The joint American and Afghan operation had the day earlier than killed 87 Taliban, she stated, they usually could have been utilizing claims of civilian casualties to cover their losses.

Ten days earlier, in southern Uruzgan Province, one other joint American-Afghan Particular Forces patrol ended up in what American officers known as a “fog of battle” incident, wherein the patrol exchanged fireplace with a close-by Afghan Nationwide Military base. As in Saturday’s incident, the People known as in an airstrike after, they stated, confirming there have been no pleasant models beneath fireplace within the space. The airstrike worn out the military outpost, killing or wounding 15 of the 17 defending Afghan troopers.

Mohammad Ibrahim, a relative of the victims on Saturday who took these wounded within the airstrike to Kunduz Regional Hospital, stated 4 ladies in addition to 4 ladies, a son and their dad and mom have been killed within the airstrike. “Three ladies have been wounded within the airstrike, one in all them died of her wounds on the way in which to the hospital,” Mr. Ibrahim stated. He’s unrelated to the native police commander with the identical title.

After the incident, the insider who began it fled to Taliban positions however was killed by the insurgents in one other obvious case of mistaken identification, in accordance with Mr. Amiri. He stated village elders had been summoned to the insurgents’ place to get well the insider’s physique, and have been advised that the rebel who shot the insider had himself been arrested by the Taliban for doing so.

The Kunduz preventing dropped at 4 the variety of American troops killed this yr, all of them Particular Operations troops or American troopers assigned to a Particular Forces unit. These are the one remaining American models nonetheless partaking in energetic fight in Afghanistan. About half of the 14,000 American troopers in Afghanistan are Particular Operations troops. The rest are trainers, advisers and assist forces.

In an unrelated incident in southern Helmand Province, three individuals together with a provincial division head, Mohammad Khan Nasrat, have been killed, and 30 individuals have been wounded by two Taliban bombs that have been set off concurrently throughout annual celebrations of Farmer’s Day, in accordance with Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the provincial governor. Among the many wounded have been three different authorities officers. The remainder of the victims have been civilians.

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