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Herat civilian casualties; Taliban commander denies offensive preparation

29 Jul 2020 Kabul Now

Qari Ghulam Nabi, a former Taliban prisoner, who is accused of regrouping Taliban fighters in Herat

The Afghan Air Force targeted a group of Taliban fighters in Kham Ziarat village of Guzara district in Herat province, on Wednesday, July 22. The attack left a heavy casualty on the village, local sources confirmed.

Fawad Aman, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that several Taliban militants including senior commanders of the group were killed and wounded in the attack. According to him, the commanders targeted by the Afghan Air Force, were preparing to launch terrorist attacks in Herat province.

Local sources in the village claimed that a number of civilians were also killed and wounded as result of the attack. Sobhan, a resident of the village, lost six members of his family including two of his brothers in the attack. He called on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Qari Ghulam Nabi, a former Taliban prisoner, told Kabul Now that villagers had arranged ceremony for his release and they had no military purpose.  

In an interview with Kabul Now, he told that under the rule, the released Taliban prisoners are not allowed to carry weapons and take part in war until further notice. This rule applied by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzadah, leader of the Taliban, has no exception.

The 35-year-old Gholam Nabi is a leading Taliban commander in Guzara district of Herat which is controlled by the Taliban. After 11 months of imprisonment at Bagram prison, he was released on July 22.

The MoD has released a video clip which shows a gathering of Taliban commanders and militants, a few moments before the attack. In this video, a group of ten armed people with a variety of weapons are shown who are guarding the area.

Kabul Now cannot confirm the accuracy of the video.

The local sources in Guzara district say the villagers carry weapons to protect themselves.

In statement, Qari Mohammad Yusuf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban, claimed that the Afghan Air Force had targeted a gathering of locals at home of Qari Ghulam Nabi, on Wednesday morning. According to Mr. Ahmadi, eight civilians were killed and 12 others were wounded as a result of the attack. In addition, three vehicles belonging to the guests of Qari Ghulam Nabi were also destroyed.

Meanwhile, locals claim that eleven people were killed, 20 were injured while seven others were missing. Sister of Ghulam Nabi was among the wounded group, who after reaching Iran for treatment passed away.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, confirmed that civilians including women and children were killed and wounded as the result of the attack. He called on the parties to respect the lives and properties of civilians. “Violence and killings will not improve their positions in negotiating table”.

Mr. Abdullah called on the authorities to investigate the incident in Kham Ziarat and share finding with people.

Zalmay Khalilzad, US peace envoy, in a series of tweets condemned the attack by the Afghan Air Force in the village, saying that according to photos and reports, many civilians including children were killed and injured in the incident. “Digging more graves would not lead to progress towards negotiations”.

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