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Afghanistan probes deaths of 14 civilians after US airstrikes

Fourteen Afghan civilians were killed in an airstrike near Kunduz. (Photo by AFP)

At least 14 people have been killed in an air raid in Chardara district near the northern Afghan city of Kunduz after an anti-Taliban operation which involved US airstrikes.

Women and children were among those died in the Thursday attack in Chardara, a district outside Kunduz that has long been fought over between Taliban and government forces, according to Nematullah Temori, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor.

The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the incident was still being investigated, and whether the strike had been conducted by the Afghan airforce or US aircraft.

Reports said US aircraft  had supported Afghan security forces in the Chardara operation.

Meanwhile, a UN report said Afghan civilian casualties from aerial attacks rose by over 50 percent in the first half of the year to 353 killed and wounded. The UN urged civilian protection in air operations.

At least 1,692 civilians were killed in the violence during the first six months of 2018, the highest number of fatalities e recorded in the equivalent period, according to the UN report.

Also on Saturday, Afghan forces killed at least 36 members of the Taliban militant group operating in Kunduz.

Abdul Baqi Noristani, the provincial police chief, said the militants were killed during Afghan security forces’ airstrikes and ground operations in Chardara district of Kunduz, adding that at least ten other militants were also wounded.

The Kunduz police chief said several Taliban hideouts were targeted and the militants suffered heavy casualties during the Afghan airstrikes.

Noristani had not offered any details about Afghan casualties.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with the express aim of toppling the Taliban. Now, some 17 years on, the militant group rules supreme in the war-torn country and the US has shown interest more than ever in negotiating with the militants.

Recently, the Daesh Takifiri militant group has taken advantage of the lawlessness in Afghanistan and stepped up its terror attacks in the war-torn state after losing its bases in Iraq and Syria.

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