US airstrike in Afghanistan killed 32 civilians: UN

The airstrike in Kunduz triggered angry protests in the Afghanistan province. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Kabul, Afghanistan Nov 07, 2016, 04.53 PM (IST)

An ongoing United Nations probe about the casualties in the US airstrike in Afghanistan has found that at least 32 civilians were killed in the strike in the volatile Afghan province of Kunduz last week.

"Preliminary findings indicate that the aerial operation killed at least 32 civilians and injured an additional 19 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children," read a statement by the UN's mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). 

The UNAMA had announced on Sunday that it was investigating the allegations about the strike.

UN's special envoy to Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said the loss of civilian lives in the country was "unacceptable" and "undermines efforts toward building peace and stability."

"When conducting aerial operations, international military forces should take all feasible measures to minimise civilian harm, including full analysis of the context for aerial strikes," the envoy said.

Local officials said at least 30 people had been killed in the strikes which took place last Thursday triggering angry protests in Kunduz. Many of the victims were children whose mutilated bodies were paraded through the streets by grieving relatives, international news agency AFP reported.

US forces have conceded that the strike "very likely" resulted in civilian casualties and said they will fully investigate the incident, AFP reported.

Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces in their 15-year campaign against the insurgents, has often been criticised by the government and the public.

The killings came just days before the US presidential election. Surprisingly neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have raised the issue of Afghanistan in the course of their campaigns even though the situation there will be an urgent matter for the new president.

Thursday's airstrikes in Kunduz came after two American soldiers and three Afghan special forces soldiers were killed in anti-Taliban operations in the Boz-e-Kandahari area near the provincial capital.

UN says civilian casualties from airstrikes caused by by pro-government forces in Afghanistan have increased by 42 per cent this year, AFP reported.

(WION with inputs from AFP)