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Afghan mother, 2 children ‘killed by airstrike’: local officials

KABUL (TOLO News): Locals officials claim “an airstrike” in Muqur district of Badghis province reportedly “killed three members of a family–two children and a woman.”

The Badghis governor confirmed the airstrike but claimed that five Taliban members were killed in the raid.

He said that the civilians were killed in a roadside mine explosion.

“When I visited the hospital in the morning, I saw three dead bodies–two children and one woman,” said Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council.

“We categorically reject this, because we have very credible and authentic reports there–the civilians weren’t killed as a result of airstrikes, they were killed in roadside bomb,” said Abdul Ghafoor Malekzai, the governor of Badghis province.

In Kunduz, the family of victims of Friday’s Dasht-e-Archi district airstrike have once again called for justice. Reportedly a top commander of Hizb-e-Islami and four of his family members were killed–two women and two children.

“Ghulam Rabbani served as a Hizb-e-Islami commander several years ago, but he laid down his arms a long time ago. He was living like an ordinary citizen,” said Ezatullah Habibi, a family member of the victims in Kunduz.

Human rights groups react:

Human rights organizations, among them the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and Amnesty International, once again strongly criticized the increased civilian casualties caused by airstrikes by Afghan security forces and their foreign counterparts, saying the high civilian casualties raises questions about the legitimacy of the Afghan government.

“In 2019, Afghan civilians continued to pay the price of the ongoing conflict as justice proved elusive for the victims,” Amnesty International said on January 30, after the human rights organization released its annual report on events in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Civilian casualties remained high throughout the year, with July marking the deadliest month on record and Afghanistan remaining the deadliest conflict in the world for children. Hundreds of thousands were internally displaced. Half a million Afghans were forcibly returned from neighboring countries, and several thousand more from Europe, especially Turkey. Journalists and human rights defenders continued to face intimidation, threats, detention and even death for their work,” the report by the Amnesty International said.

“There will be questions about the credibility and the legitimacy of the system (government) in view of the extent of the damages people suffer during the conflict, particularly when there are violation of human rights and disrespect for the law of war,” said Behzad Hakak, member of AIHRC.

“We have constantly shared our concerns regarding civilian casualties in Afghanistan– we want the civilian casualties to decrease to zero in Afghanistan,” said Zaman Sultani,

“The armed conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down, it is widening, and the people who continue to pay the price are Afghan civilians. Throughout 2019, they were killed, injured, forcibly displaced and subject to other serious human rights violations by both the government and armed groups,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

But, the Afghan Ministry of Defense has said that Afghan forces carried out their operations with complete coordination and based on credible intelligence reports.

“The area of the operation is fully analyzed before launching any strike, if we learn there is the possibility of civilian casualties because of an airstrike on the terrorists, then we avoid the attack always,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

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