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Pentagon refutes Afghan civilian casualty claims

12 August 2017, 05:53 | Taylor George

Pentagon refutes Afghan civilian casualty claims

A U.S. military

At least 16 civilians have been killed in a US airstrike as they tried to flee an area in eastern Afghanistan controlled by Islamic State group militants, Afghan officials said on Friday. "We do not have any news about civilian casualties".

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan on Friday said a U.S. airstrike "killed a number of militants and destroyed their vehicle in the Haska Mena district of eastern Nangarhar Province on the evening of August 10", according to a statement.

Airstrikes by U.S. warplanes have also significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of the Taliban militant group and other terror outfits in the crisis-hit country. Eleven people were killed and one wounded.

Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense, said Thursday's strike was carried out by foreign forces in coordination with Afghan officials.

They have been regularly targeting IS fighters who control several districts in restive Nangarhar.

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"Two mortar mines fired by militants struck some houses in Tort Atai village in Dawlatabad district Friday night, killing 13 innocent civilians and injuring three others", the official told Xinhua. "We do not have any news about civilian casualties. But, we have appointed a delegation to investigate if civilians are killed".

He said the security forces were establishing a check-post in Jumjumah Qala area, but the Taliban tried to prevent them. The strike led to allegations of civilian casualties. "For the time being, we do not have a precise figure about the casualties", he told AFP.

Every so often، U.S. air raids kill both Afghan soldiers and civilians across the country.

Claims of civilian deaths from airstrikes have occurred this year in Kunduz in the north and in Helmand province in the south, often as a result of fighting in areas where it can be hard to distinguish insurgents from civilians.

In June, at least three Afghan border police officers were killed in U.S. airstrikes in Helmand province. In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured, according to the United Nations.



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