The top American general in Afghanistan has promised an investigation into in support of Afghan special forces and their US advisers near the northern city of Kunduz this week.
Two US service members and 26 civilians killed in Afghanistan raid
More than 30 civilians, half of them children, were killed on Thursday in a strike on the village of Buz Kandahari, just outside Kunduz, that was called in when a special forces raid encountered heavy fire from Taliban militants.
Gen John Nicholson, commander of US forces in , said he deeply regretted the loss of innocent lives.
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“An initial investigation has determined that efforts near Kunduz on 3 November to defend Afghan National Defense and Security Forces likely resulted in civilian casualties,” he said in a statement.
“We will work with our Afghan partners to investigate and determine the facts and we will work with the government of Afghanistan to provide assistance.”
The raid targeted three Taliban leaders in the village, who officials said were planning attacks on Kunduz. It met “significant enemy fire from multiple locations” and called in support from US aircraft.
Afghan officials said 33 civilians, including 17 children, appeared to have been killed.
The intensity of the fighting, in which three members of the Afghan special forces and two US advisers were also killed, underlined how precarious the situation around Kunduz remained, a month after the insurgents threatened to overrun the city.
A defence ministry spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, said the Taliban militants targeted in the raid were senior figures in their own houses.
“They weren’t ordinary people who had gathered. They were leading fighting in Kunduz. They were the commanders of their military commission,” he told a news conference, adding that the Taliban leaders were willing to use their own family members as human shields.
“They hold meetings in their own houses and if there are civilian casualties, it’s an achievement for them because they can say the government killed civilians,” he said.