Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2015
Battle at Afghanistan airport kills 37 civilians, including children
Nine attackers and 37 civilians were killed, including four children and others working in a residential area for army families
By Mohammad Jawad and Shashank Bengali
Afghan security forces on Wednesday battled Taliban militants who stormed the airport complex in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in an attack that killed 37 civilians, officials said.
The attack began when more than a dozen assailants, reportedly wearing the uniforms of Afghan security forces, stormed the complex Tuesday evening. The airport serves as a base for U.S. forces and CIA operations in southern Afghanistan, and is also used by Afghan forces.
Nine attackers and 37 civilians were killed, including four children and others working in a residential area for army families, according to Gen. Daud Shah Wafadar, an Afghan army commander in Kandahar. One attacker was arrested.
Another 35 civilians were wounded.
Security officials offered few details of the operation and did not disclose information about casualties among Afghan security forces. The Taliban claimed in a statement that it had killed dozens of soldiers, although the insurgent group regularly exaggerates the death tolls from its operations.
The attack came as representatives from more than two dozen countries met in neighboring Pakistan at a one-day conference on improving security in Afghanistan, more than 14 years after the U.S.-led military invasion.
The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan jointly opened the conference, with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying Islamabad wanted to revive peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban that have been stalled since the summer.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government has accused Pakistan of supporting Taliban and allied insurgents whose aim is to destabilize Afghanistan. In a speech, Ghani praised Pakistan’s pledge to resume talks and respect Afghan sovereignty.
“Your words today have gone a very long way to assure us in this regard, and that opens up the possibility for sustained dialogue among us,” Ghani said.
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