Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
August 14, 2019
The United Nations says it is “gravely concerned” by reports indicating that 11 civilians had been killed in an Afghan security force operation in the eastern province of Paktia.
“Accountability essential. Harm to civilians must stop,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a post on Twitter on August 14, noting that the “pro-government search operation” took place during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security (NDS) intelligence service said the operation targeted a Taliban hideout and left “no civilian casualties.”
Two commanders were among the 11 dead militants, it said in a statement, adding that weapons and ammunition were also seized in the raid.
The operation reportedly took place in Zurmat district on the night of August 11.
A provincial council member, Allah Mir Khan Bahramzoi, said the government forces attacked a student gathering.
“Late in the evening, security forces surrounded the house, brought out the victims from the guesthouse, and shot them one by one,” Bahramzoi told Reuters news agency.
There has been no letup in violence in the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, even though U.S. and Taliban negotiators appeared to be closing in on an accord to end the fighting.
More than 3,800 civilians were killed or injured in the conflict during the first six months of this year, according to UNAMA.
The eighth round of talks between the United States and the Taliban ended in Qatar on August 12. No date has been announced for the next round.
With reporting by Reuters and dpa