(MENAFN - Gulf Times) An Afghan air force airstrike targeting Taliban militants has left at least 13 civilians dead and seven injured in Afghanistan's western Herat province, officials said Tuesday.
The air force targeted a Taliban command centre in Bakhtabad village of Shindand district on Monday evening. The strike killed 20 militants but also hit civilian houses nearby, killing 13 civilians, Herat's government spokesman Jailani Farhad told dpa.
A member of Herat's provincial council, Haji Toryalai Taheri, spoke of 20 civilian deaths and no Taliban victims. "The Taliban gathering that the air force wanted to hit was already
over," Taheri said.
Provincial spokesman Farhad said that a "fact-finding team has been
sent to the area." The number of US and Afghan airstrikes against Taliban and Islamic
State militants has risen, with the military seeing the strikes as
the last resort to drive a growing insurgency back.
According to the UN, the number of airstrikes in the first six months of 2017 increased by 43 per cent compared to the same time in 2016.
At least 232 Afghan civilians were killed and injured in that same period, the report says.
The US air force was responsible for 37 per cent of the casualties, the Afghan airforce for 48 per cent.