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Afghan Airstrike Said to Target Taliban Mostly Killed Children, U.N. Finds

08 May 2018 The New York Times

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An injured Afghan boy on a stretcher outside a hospital in Kunduz last month, a day after a government air attack on a religious ceremony. The United Nations has found that at least 50 of at least 71 people wounded were children, along with at least 30 of the at least 36 killed.

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Bashir Khan Safi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Of more than 100 people killed or wounded in an Afghan government airstrike last month, most were children at a religious gathering, United Nations officials have concluded, contradicting Afghan officials who have claimed that the target was a Taliban planning session.In a damning report issued on Monday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Unama, stopped short of calling the April 2 airstrike a war crime, but said it raised “questions as to the government’s respect of the rules of precaution and proportionality under international humanitarian law.”At least 36 people were killed and 71 wounded, of whom 30 of the dead and 51 of the wounded were children, Unama found, but the toll may have been much higher. It counted only those casualties that could be confirmed by three independent sources, and said that many other people were reported killed or injured by one or two sources; some local officials put the death toll as high as 70.Rights workers described a disturbing pattern of behavior by a government that no longer complains about civilian casualties from airstrikes, now that its own forces are carrying out most of those attacks. American airstrikes, especially in the Kunduz area, once aroused a great deal of government criticism, and the United States has at times apologized.

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“The rise in civilian casualties from Afghan government air operations is deeply troubling,” said Patricia Gossman of Human Rights Watch. “There is little capacity or commitment to carry out robust investigations; those that are done are ad hoc and — as in this case — never made public.” Continue reading the main story

Original Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/asia/afghanistan-airstrike-children.html

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