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‘Helmand civilian deaths to be probed’

Nearly 60 militants including eight Taliban leaders killed during operation: Officials

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Security officials in southern Helmand province said that they are investigating civilian casualties possibly incurred during an operation in Sangin district of the province.

The provincial council chief on Saturday confirmed the killing of 20 civilians in foreign force’s airstrikes in Sangin district of the province.

“Provincial governor office assigned a delegation to assess civilian casualties,” Provincial Governor Spokesman, Omar Zawak told Afghanistan Times. “It is before time to say word on the issue.”

Meanwhile, the 215th Maiwand Corps Commander in Helmand, Mohmmad Rasoul Zazai confirmed civilian casualties in the district.

“Six killed and two others wounded in the district,” he said, adding that these people were killed by Taliban.

“When the Taliban insurgents came under immense pressure by Afghan security forces, they use civilians as their shelter,” he added.

However, the Resolute Support Mission in a statement said that there has been fighting in and around Sangin over the last few weeks, and the US Forces have conducted strikes to support and defend our Afghan partners.

“As with all claims of civilian casualties, we will investigate them to determine whether what the facts are and whether civilians were hurt or killed as a result of our operations,” the statement added.

If furthered, “we take every precaution to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties and we take every allegation seriously.  With that said, we have no evidence that civilians were killed in these strikes, rather just claims from the Taliban that civilians were killed as a result of our strikes in Sangin.

Moreover, in a statement, the Taliban militants said that 25 civilian killed and six others wounded in US airstrike in Sangin district.

The statement added, “in Charchino village house of “Haji Fida Mohammad Aka” destroyed during bombing of US strike, which resulted at killing of 15 people including women and children and wound of three others.”

Similarly, in Mullah Bacha area another house targeted in which seven people killed including women and children and two others wounded, the statement added.

However, the Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties during a series of airstrikes in southern Helmand province on Friday.

The provincial government officials said nearly 60 Taliban insurgents were killed as they were planning to launch a major attack on Sangin district.