PAN, July 13, 2018

20 civilians killed by government forces in Paktia operation

Angry over the civilian deaths, the residents said the security forces also arrested a number of civilians

Kunduz madrassa airstrike by Afghan airforces Apr. 2 2018
Apr. 2, 2018: An Afghan boy injured in an airstrike carried out by the Afghan military on a religious seminary in northern Afghanistan receives treatment at a hospital. (Photo: NBC News)

At least 20 civilians and 26 Taliban militants have been killed during hours long clashes and airstrike in Zurmat district of southeastern Paktia province, residents said on Friday.

The ground and air offensive was carried out on Thursday and the following night in Sahak area, said Sherin Jan, a resident of nearby Shamolzai village.

Eleven civilians, including three children and as many women, were killed when an airstrike struck their home, he said, adding the Taliban had fired at security forces prior to the airstrike.

He said another nine civilians had been killed by government forces during their operations in villages nearby Sahak area. He said 26 Taliban gunmen were killed during the operations.

Another resident of Sahak area, Hassan, confirmed the killing of 20 civilians but had no information about Taliban casualties.

Angry over the civilian deaths, the residents said the security forces also arrested a number of civilians.

Zurmat district chief Hakim Waziri also civilian casualties in the operations, but said exact figures were not yet known.

Provincial officials said 32 Taliban gunmen were killed in the operations in Zurmat district while civilian casualties were being investigated.

The official said the civilians suffered casualties because the Taliban used their homes as bastions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense in a statement claimed 107 Taliban militants were killed and 25 others wounded in the operations in Zurmat district.

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected if the rebels used people’s homes as bastions for attacks on security forces. He said the government forces killed and wounded 35 civilians in Zurmat operations.

He said a number of security forces sustained casualties in clashes with the Taliban in the district. He said two fighters were killed and three others wounded.

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