Airstrikes in Afghanistan kill 45 civilians and Taliban members – officials

epa03366529 A handout picture taken 17 November 2011 and made available by the International Security Assistance Force on 21 August 2012 shows aircraft from the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, near Kabul, Afghanistan. Two rockets fired at a US airbase in Afghanistan early 21 August 2012 damaged the aircraft used by the top US general Martin Dempsey and injured two maintenance crew. Dempsey was on a two-day visit to Afghanistan in the wake of series of attacks suffered by the NATO-led coalition from Afghan soldiers and police. EPA/ISAF HANDOUT

HERAT, Afghanistan, July 22 (Reuters) - Airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan killed 45 people, including civilians and Taliban, local officials said on Wednesday.


Ali Ahmad Faqir Yar, the governor of Adraskan District in the eastern Afghanistan province of Herat, said at least eight civilians were among the dead. “Forty-five people had been killed so far in airstrikes by security forces in the Kham Ziarat area, Taliban were among those killed,” he said.

It was unclear how many of the remaining 37 were civilians and how many were members of the Taliban.

Habib Amini, a local official in neighbouring Guzara district, confirmed the incident and that 45 were killed and more injured.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they had not taken part in Wednesday’s airstrikes.

The United States is winding back troops under an agreement with the Taliban struck in February, which was meant to pave the way to formal peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government. However, disagreement over the release of prisoners demanded by the Taliban and rising violence around the country have hampered progress, and talks have yet to start.

Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement that two airstrikes in Heart had killed eight civilians and wounded 12.

Two local officials confirmed there had been two rounds of airstrikes. (Reporting by Storay Karimi and Orooj Hakimi; writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis)


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