The Address | Benghazi – Libya
ASADABAD – At least 20 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, were killed in an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Kunar late on Friday, local officials said.
The strike, against local Taliban commander Sharif Mawiya, was the latest in a series targeting senior insurgents, including the shadow governor of the strategic southern province of Helmand, who was killed on Dec. 2.
Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of the provincial council, said eight women and 12 children were killed and more than 15 others wounded in Friday’s airstrike.
A spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission denied that there were civilian deaths, although she said some civilians were wounded.
“The Taliban continue to use civilians as shields and barricade themselves inside compounds while engaging the Afghan forces” said Debra Richardson of Resolute Support.
The number of Afghan civilians killed in U.S. and Afghan airstrikes has risen sharply this year as Western-backed forces have stepped up aerial operations with the aim of forcing the Taliban to agree to peace talks.
According to United Nations figures, 313 civilians were killed and 336 wounded in airstrikes by U.S. and Afghan forces in the nine months to the end of September, a 39 per cent increase from the same period in 2017.