Afghan official says airstrike kills 16 civilians

January 24, 2019 - 10:50 am

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An airstrike on a home in southern Afghanistan killed 16 civilians from the same extended family, an Afghan official said Thursday.

Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, said the airstrike was launched Wednesday in the Sangin district during heavy fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban. Most of those killed were women and children, he said.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said an investigation has been launched.

It was not immediately clear if the airstrike was launched by Afghan forces or NATO, which often provides air support to Afghan ground troops.

"A large Afghan-led, multi-day operation in Sangin, Helmand has been supported by U.S. advisors and coalition air strikes," NATO said in a statement. "Due to the ongoing operation and the number of units involved, we are still looking into the claim of non-combatant casualties."

Afghan forces have struggled to contain a resurgent Taliban that now effectively controls nearly half the country. The insurgents killed dozens of Afghan forces in a complex attack launched on a military base run by the country's intelligence agency in eastern Afghanistan earlier this week.

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