By Khan Wali Salarzai
ASADABAD: Nearly a dozen children have been killed and a number of women wounded in an International Security Assistance Force airstrike in the Shigal district of eastern Kunar province, officials said on Sunday.
The air raid came during a joint operation by Afghan and coalition forces in the Shulatan area of the district late on Saturday. At least seven women were among the injured, the governor’s spokesman said.
Wasifullah Wasifi told Pajhwok Afghan News 11 senior Taliban figures were killed and 10 others injured in the raid that left one coalition soldier dead and four local intelligence agents wounded.
But the district’s administrative head, Abdul Zahir Sapi, alleged 11 children had also been killed. Reporters who visited the scene saw the children’s bodies. The victims were aged between two months and seven years, Sapi said.
He added the Taliban were meeting inside the house which under bombardment. Taliban commander Ali Khan and his relatives were killed when his residence was struck, Sapi explained.
The raid came after the guerrillas fired at the joint force, which asked them to surrender.
A dweller of Shultan, Shah Mohammad, put the civilian toll at 22 dead and wounded. He said the houses of three brothers Ali Khan, Sharifullah and Behram Said had been bombed.
Earlier in the day, Asadabad Civil Hospital Director Dr. Farooq Sahak confirmed receiving five injured women from the valley. They were in stable condition, he said.
Resident Noor Mohammad, who accompanied the women to the hospital, said the area had come under intense bombardment. He feared heavy casualties in the airstrike that lasted several hours.
Approached for comments, the NATO-led force said: â€œWe are still investigating the reports. We are aware of reports that civilians were injured during an operation. We take all reports of civilian injuries seriously and coalition officials are looking into this operation to ascertain the facts.”
On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi acknowledged the loss of six ordinary fighters in the air raid. He claimed several women and children had been killed in the strike.
In face-to-face fighting, 10 American troops were killed, he said, adding the insurgents also stormed the district centre and a security checkpoint.
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