A NATO airstrike has slaughtered at least 30 Afghan civilians, many of which were women and children, on Thursday in the volatile northern province of Kunduz, officials have said.
The airstrike, which occurred early Thursday, triggered emotionally-charged protests in the provincial capital, with the victims’ relatives rallying outside the governor’s office while carrying the bodies of dead children.
The carnage shows even more volatility and insecurity than when the same Kunduz city was attacked by the Taliban forces. For the second time in a year, as NATO-backed Afghan forces struggle to fight a war with the “insurgents.”
“Afghan forces and coalition troops conducted a joint operation against the Taliban insurgents,” provincial spokesman Mahmood Danish told AFP.
“In the bombardment 30 Afghan civilians were martyred and 25 others were wounded.”
Police spokesman Mahmoodullah Akbari gave the same toll to AFP, adding that the dead included infants aged as young as three months and other children.
The killings come just days before the US presidential election. Interestingly, no mention of the US’s war in Afghanistan.
During three lengthy debates between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Afghanistan got scarcely a passing mention — even though the situation there will be an urgent matter for the new president.
Either one of them will inherit America’s longest war with no end in sight.
The US military, which leads the NATO mission to train and assist local forces after their combat mission ended in 2014, often gives upbeat assessments about Afghan military performance.
But as Afghan military forces near the end of a second-year leading security operations without full NATO assistance, they are sustaining heavy casualties.
The Taliban’s apparent strategic goal in 2016 is to seize another provincial capital like they briefly did in Kunduz last year, in a stinging blow to Afghan forces