KABUL, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was investigating airstrikes conducted by U.S. forces in northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province that caused civilian casualties, the mission said in a statement on Sunday.
On Thursday, a series of air strikes were carried out in Buz-e-Kandahari area of provincial capital Kunduz city, following ground operations conducted by foreign and Afghan security forces there, in which pro-Government forces came under attack by Anti-Government Elements.
In a statement released Saturday, United States Forces-Afghanistan acknowledged they had conducted air-to-ground engagements at that time in that area, with the commander, General John W. Nicholson, expressing his deep regret for the loss of innocent lives, the statement said.
“Preliminary findings indicate that the aerial operation killed at least 32 civilians and injured an additional 19 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. UNAMA also received reports that the air strikes severely damaged at least 22 houses,”it said.
“The loss of civilian life is unacceptable and undermines efforts toward building peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, was quoted in the statement as saying.
“When conducting aerial operations, international military forces should take all feasible measures to minimize civilian harm, including full analysis of the context for aerial strikes.”he said.
UNAMA urges authorities to ensure an independent, impartial and prompt investigation at the earliest opportunity, and for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure accountability, compensation for victims and the prevention of such incidents in the future.
In accordance with its mandate to support the protection of civilians in armed conflict, UNAMA will continue to investigate credible allegations of harm caused to civilians by all parties to the conflict. Fuller information on this and other serious incidents will be provided in the Mission’s 2016 Protection of Civilians Annual Report, slated for release in January 2017, it noted.
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