UN Mission in Afghanistan probing US airstrikes killing 32 civilians in Kunduz

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 7 (APP): The United Nations mission in Afghanistan is currently investigating reports that at least over 30 civilians were killed and a further 19 injured in last Thursday’s U.S. airstrikes in Kunduz city, a UN spokesman said Monday.
According to preliminary findings, the aerial operation killed at least
32 civilians and injured an additional 19 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. In addition, at least 22 houses were damaged.
Spokesman Stephane Dujarriuc said the UN Assistance Mission in
Afghanistan (UNAMA) had urged authorities to ensure an independent, impartial and prompt investigation at the earliest opportunity, and for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure accountability, compensation for victims and the prevention of such incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has welcomed the UN move to probe the airstrikes as a step towards accountability.
Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director said, “The
horrific events in Kunduz last week are the latest in a growing list of incidents which have resulted in Afghan civilians being killed or injured in attacks that appear to have violated international humanitarian law.”
“We hope that this UN investigation into the circumstances surrounding
the bombing represents a step towards truth and justice for the victims and their families.”
“If the investigation ultimately does show that the attack violated
international humanitarian law, it is critical that US/NATO forces are held accountable. If there is evidence of war crimes, those responsible must be prosecuted in fair trials.”
Earlier, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special
Representative for Afghanistan and head UNAMA said in Kabul that the loss of civilian life
was unacceptable and undermined efforts toward building peace and stability in the
country.
“When conducting aerial operations, international military forces
should take all feasible measures to minimize civilian harm, including full analysis of the
context for aerial strikes,” he added.
In the early hours of Nov 3, a series of airstrikes were carried out in
Buz-e-Kandahari area of Kunduz city, following ground operations conducted by
international and Afghan security forces there, in which pro-Government forces came under
attack by anti-Government elements.
In a statement released Saturday, United States Forces-Afghanistan
acknowledged it had conducted air-to-ground engagements at that time in that area, with
the commander, General John W. Nicholson, expressing his deep regret for the loss of
innocent lives.
According to a UN news release, this incident took place in the context
of significant countrywide violence, with civilians bearing the brunt.
In the past week, the Mission has documented 46 separate incidents of
conflict-related violence, resulting in severe civilian harm, including deaths and injuries
from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, aerial attacks from rotary and
fixed-wing aircraft, targeted killings and explosive remnants of war.
Between October 30 and November 5, the mission documented a preliminary
figure of 206 civilian casualties, 95 deaths and 111 injuries.
In accordance with its mandate to support the protection of civilians in
armed conflict, UNAMA said it will continue to investigate credible allegations of harm
caused to civilians by all parties to the conflict.
The UN Mission expressed its sincere condolences to the families of
victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.