Afghan special forces have killed at least nine civilians in an operation in the eastern province of Nangarhar late on Monday, May 28, officials said Tuesday.
Details of the night raid in the Dawlatzai area of Chaparhar district are unclear, and there was no immediate comment from the defence ministry. Provincial Governor Hayatullah Hayat said Afghan forces raided a house where gunfire originated, and most of the casualties were later identified as civilians, RFE/RL reported.
“Nine civilians including a local police commander and relatives of the Senate chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar [were killed] and eight others were wounded,” the spokesperson for the provincial governor Attaullah Khogyan said, Tolo News reported.
Khogyani told RFE/RL that a child and a woman were among the wounded.
“A delegation from Kabul has been sent to Nangarhar to investigate the incident,” he said.
Some local people said 12 people were killed and 28 wounded, Reuters reported.
The provincial health director said the dead and wounded were brought to local hospitals in Jalalabad, according to AFP. Voice of America’s Dari service has published footage from the hospital and of people carrying coffins through the street.
According to Tolo, the Taliban has claimed that all the victims are relatives of Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, chairman of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of parliament).
The Afghan forces were not accompanied by American soldiers, NATO’s Resolute Support mission said.
“This was an Afghan led operation. No U.S. Forces-Afghanistan personnel were involved in this operation,” a spokesperson for Resolute Support headquarters told The Defense Post.
In March, Meshrano Jirga members urged the government to investigate another incident in Nangarhar in which civilians were killed, Tolo reported. On March 17, the provincial governor’s spokesperson said at least eight civilians were killed in an operation reportedly jointly conducted by Afghan and Resolute Support forces.
A dangerous place to be a civilian
Civilian casualties remain high in Afghanistan’s grinding conflict with more than 10,000 killed or wounded in 2017, a nine percent decrease on 2016, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Almost two-thirds of civilian casualties were caused by anti-government forces, but pro-government forces, including international troops, were responsible for 20 percent – a seven percent increase from 2016.
The increase was partly due to a growing number of air strikes carried out by both Afghan and foreign forces. The U.S. is the only international force known to be carrying out air strikes in Afghanistan.
UNAMA’s latest figures show 763 civilians were killed and 1,495 were wounded in the first three months of 2018, which reflects similar levels of civilian harm documented in the same period in 2017 and 2016. Around 30 percent were as a result of ground engagements, which also caused more than half of the female casualties.
Earlier this month President Ashraf Ghani apologised after an Afghan Air Force strike on a religious school in Kunduz on April 2 killed 36 people including 30 children after the U.N. released a blistering report into the incident .
With reporting from AFP