US military: November fight with Taliban killed 33 civiliansJanuary 12, 2017 10:19am

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. military in Afghanistan said on Thursday that its investigation into a November firefight with the Taliban in northern Kunduz province has shown that 33 civilians died in the raid during which U.S. troops fired on Afghan homes.

The probe followed claims that civilian deaths resulted from airstrikes called in to support Afghan and U.S. forces who came under fire in the province's village of Buz-e Kandahari, which targeted two senior Taliban commanders.

The two Taliban figures, responsible for violence in Kunduz the previous month, were killed in the operation.

According to a U.S. military statement, the investigation "determined, regretfully, that 33 civilians were killed and 27 wounded" as troops responded to fire from "Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions."

After the raid, Kunduz residents carried over a dozen corpses of the dead, including children and family members of the Taliban fighters, toward a local governor's office in a show of rage.

"Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives," the statement quoted Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. "On this occasion the Taliban chose to hide amongst civilians and then attacked Afghan and U.S. forces."

"I wish to assure President (Ashraf) Ghani and the people of Afghanistan that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians," Nicholson added. "We will continue to assist the Afghan security forces in their efforts to defend their country."

But a Kunduz official told The Associated Press that the Afghan civilian death toll in the U.S. military probe was less than what local authorities had.

"More than 50 people, including women and children, were killed in the Afghan and U.S. forces' attack in Buz-e Kandahari," said Toryalia Kakar, a deputy provincial council member.

Kakar urged the United States to compensate the victims' families who he said not only lost their loved ones but also saw their homes and property destroyed in the airstrikes.

The Taliban briefly overran the city of Kunduz, the provincial capital with the same name, in October 2015, in a show of strength by the insurgents that also highlighted the troubles facing local Afghan forces, 15 years after the U.S.-led invasion of the country. The Taliban captured and held parts of Kunduz a year earlier as well, before the city was fully liberated weeks later with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

In the 2015 operation, a U.S. Air Force special operations AC-130 gunship attacked a Kunduz hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, killing 42 people. Sixteen U.S. military personnel, including a two-star general, later were disciplined for what American officials described as mistakes that led the strike. Doctors Without Borders has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation.

After the firefight last November, Ghani criticized the Taliban for using women and children as "a shield" during the raid in Buz-e Kandahari. He also announced a local investigation had been started.

The U.S. military statement further added that its investigation "concluded that U.S. forces acted in self-defense" in the joint Afghan-American raid in the village.

"As an indication of the ferocity of the fire faced by friendly forces from the Taliban-occupied houses, two U.S. soldiers and three Afghan Army Commandos were killed," it said. "In addition, four U.S. soldiers and 11 commandos were wounded."

The raid also killed 26 Taliban fighters and wounded around 26 other insurgents, the U.S. military report said.

However, Kakar, the Kunduz official, disputed that death toll, saying not more than 10 Taliban fighters died.

The investigation concluded that U.S. air assets used the minimum amount of force required and that the civilians who were wounded or killed were likely inside the buildings from which the Taliban were firing. In addition, the U.S. military said a Taliban ammunition cache was struck and exploded, which also destroyed multiple civilian buildings and may also have killed civilians.

"It has been determined that no further action will be taken because U.S. forces acted in self-defense and followed all applicable law and policy," the statement concluded.

NATO's combat operations ended in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, a move that put Afghan forces in charge of the country's security. Since then, Afghan forces have suffered heavy casualties battling the Taliban, who have tried to expand their footprint across much of the country. NATO and U.S. casualties have been few.

___

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Afghan official: 6 civilians killed by roadside bombAn Afghan official says that at least six Afghan civilians were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan
Recent developments surrounding the South China SeaIn comments that could raise the stakes in the South China Sea, Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state said the U.S. should stop Beijing from constructing artificial islands and deny it access to them
Supreme Court takes up suit over 2001 detention of MuslimsThe Supreme Court on Wednesday is hearing an appeal from former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former FBI Director Robert Mueller and other former U.S. officials who want to shut down a lawsuit filed by human rights lawyers
Russia-US ties hard to mend, interests differ sharplySome items on the Russia-US agenda as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seated second right, and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, second left, smile at photographers before their talks at Kirribilli House in Sydney Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. Abe is in Australia for talks with the nation's leader on trade and regional security issues amid China's growing military might in Asia. (Brook Mitchell/Pool Photo via AP)
Australia, Japan boost defense ties amid instability in Asia
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, center, speaks during a news conference Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla., where it was announced they found Kamiyah Mobley alive and well in South Carolina. Mobley was kidnapped from a Jacksonville hospital as a newborn 18 years ago. Police arrested Gloria Williams, 51, of Walterboro, S.C., at the home Mobley was living in and charged her with kidnapping and interference with custody. Listening, from left, State Attorney Florida's 4th Judicial Circuit Melissa Nelson, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge of the Jacksonville Division, Charles Spencer, and JSO Director of Investigations and Homeland Security Ron Lendvay.  (Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
'Momma' charged with stealing teenage daughter at birth
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices