Afghanistan government air raid in April killed 30 children, UN says | News | DW | 07.05.2018
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Afghanistan government air raid in April killed 30 children, UN says

The UN said rockets and heavy machine gun fire from Afghan Air Force helicopters killed and wounded scores of people during a raid last month. The majority of the victims were children attending a religious ceremony.

Afghan security forces killed and injured at least 107 civilians in an air raid on a religious ceremony near the northern city of Kunduz last month, the United Nations said in a report on Monday.

The world body said 36 people — most of them children — were killed when Afghan government helicopters targeted them with rockets and heavy machine guns.

The UN launched an investigation into the April 2 incident after villagers in Dashti Archi district of Kunduz said dozens of people, including many children, had been killed in an attack on a religious ceremony.

Read moreAfghans in Kunduz trapped by conflict 

On the day of the attack, the Afghan Defense Ministry said the air raid killed more than 30 Taliban fighters who had gathered for a military parade. It denied the presence of civilians. But, the following day the provincial governor's office said a few civilians had been among those killed. 

The UN mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) was not able to determine if Taliban fighters were present at the time of the attack or not.

"UNAMA is not able to confirm the civilian status of each individual killed or injured, nor is the mission in a position to determine the presence or actions of Taliban leaders or units at the time of the airstrike," it said in its report.

"However, even if the Government had a legitimate military target, UNAMA questions the extent to which the Government undertook steps and concrete measures to prevent civilian casualties."

Read more Opinion: Peace proposal with Taliban puts the West in a fix

Strong criticism

Afghanistan's air capabilities have been bolstered over the past year as part of a new strategy developed with US advisors. The Afghan Air Force has been given rocket-equipped helicopters and attack aircraft to take on a resurgent Taliban.

But the UN report underlined the risks of the new strategy.

"A key finding of this report is that the Government used rockets and heavy machinegun fire on a religious gathering, resulting in high numbers of child casualties, raising questions as to the Government's respect of the rules of precaution and proportionality under international humanitarian law," the UN said.

Read moreTaliban attacks cast doubts on US' Afghan strategy

It said the attack raised serious concerns and needed to be further investigated.

The UNAMA said it was not in a position to determine whether the attack amounted to a violation of international law.

ap/kms (Reuters, AP)

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