Tribal elders and family members of those killed in an airstrike in Herat on Wednesday called on the Afghan government on Friday to launch an investigation.
There were reports of over 30 civilians killed in the attack, but casualty numbers and other details from the Defense Ministry are still pending. A spokesperson for US forces in Afghanistan confirmed US involvement in the assault, saying it was carried out at the request of Afghan security forces.
Officials from the Ministry of Interior have said the government will investigate reports of civilian casualties.
“A probe team has been assigned to investigate the incident; it’s too early to conclude what has really happened there,” said Gen. Khoshal Saadat, the deputy minister of interior for security.
Questions have been raised about why Mullah Nangialai was targeted, especially considering that his leader, Mullah Rasul, allegedly has maintained ties with the Afghan government and has fought against those Taliban groups loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah. (Read profile.)
According to tribal elders, Mullah Nangyalai was supporting the Afghan security forces in the fight against the Taliban.
“This is a Taliban splinter faction that fights on the government side--we want to ask the president, the minister of defense, and the minister of interior why those who abandon war are being killed,” said Tur Mohammad Zarifi, a tribal elder in Herat’s Shindand district.
On Thursday, TOLOnews quoted Atiquallah Amarkhil, a retired ANA general, who suggested an Iran-related aspect:
“Recently, Mullah Rasul became completely pro-Iranian and they were operating in Shindand and they had a huge influence in the west (of Afghanistan).”
“People’s houses have been destroyed in this incident--even children were martyred,” said Amir Mohammad, a tribal elder.
“20 of our friends and many people from Mullah Nangyalai’s group have been killed--over 40 people were martyred,” said Gul Ahmad, a resident of Shindand.
“The issue is very complicated. I think that the responsible ministries and institution in the center will respond to all these questions. We have designated a probe team, the incident is under investigation,” said Abdul Qayoum Rahimi, the governor of Herat.
“37 to 38 members of Commander Nangyalai’s group were martyred, two of my nephews were wounded,” said eye witness Saleh Mohammad.