By Shadi Khan Saif
At least eight children and 12 women got killed in an aerial operation against the Taliban rebels in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, officials and local media confirmed on Saturday.
The provincial governor, Abdul Sattar Mitzakwal, told a presser in the provincial capital Asadabad that civilians were indeed among the casualties following a Friday night raid on a local Taliban leader, Shareef Ma'aweya. Without but confirming the civilian death toll, he claimed 38 Taliban and al-Qaeeda rebels got killed in this attack in Sheltan mountains district.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed all victims were civilians.
According to the local Azadi Radio, the Ministry of Defence has launched investigations into the raid, and has vowed stern actions against those responsible.
Figures compiled by Anadolu Agency indicate there has been an evident upsurge in the ragging conflict resulting in mounting death toll on all sides. Amid the renewed push by Washington for negotiated settlement of the US’s longest war, the warring sides in Afghanistan seem pushing hard for upper hand ahead of the proposed talks to commence.
In just three major incidents of civilian casualties last month alone, over 100 lives were lost in the country.
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as many as 23 civilians were killed and three injured in an airstrike in Garmsir district of Helmand province during operations conducted by pro-government forces against Taliban in the area last month.
UNAMA has this year recorded a sharp increase in civilian casualties from aerial attacks in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. The 649 civilian casualties recorded between 1 January and 30 September 2018 is more than the number of civilian casualties from aerial operations recorded over every entire year since UNAMA began systematic civilian casualty documentation in 2009.