Following conflicting reports about civilian deaths in Afghan forces operation in the eastern province of Logar, an investigative report by TOLOnews correspondent Sharif Amiri reveals that civilians were harmed as a result of the military a operation by a special unit of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Mohammad Rahim, a resident of Daudkhel village on the outskirts of Pul-e-Alam city of Logar Province, claims that last week his son and a child from his family were killed in an operation by Special Operation Forces of the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
He said he returned from Saudi Arabia days ahead of the incident to meet his family and that he has no link with any military group, including the Taliban.
But, the NDS has rejected the claims.
Mr. Amiri and his team had to go into the Taliban’s territory to get to the bottom of the fact.
“I feel that much pain that I feel my heart has been cut into pieces," Mr. Rahim said. "That night was too long and no morning was looking ahead."
“What was the fault of my grandson? Why you killed him? My son came from Saudi Arabia to see his family. What he had done to you. Is there anyone to hear our voice?” asked Amin's mother.
“We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the sake of people so that we can get out of this chaos,” he said.
Mr. Amiri reports that even the Taliban fighters in the area were looking to be tired of the war with many of them saying they were thoroughly following the developments in Doha between the US and the Taliban.
Mohammad Nazim, 28, had graduated only a month ago from the economic faculty when the Taliban killed him, his relatives said.
“Men riding a motorbike came and killed my brother here and his friend was wounded,” said Mohammad Salim, victim’s brother.
“The incident is under investigation,” Logar police chief Rahm Khuda Mukhles said.
Civilian Casualties in Logar
Only July 16, local residents claimed that at least five civilians were killed in an airstrike by Afghan forces in Logar.
The residents, who talked to TOLOnews also claimed that the airstrike left 11 civilians wounded. They said that children were also among the victims.
An Army Commander in Logar, Colonel Abdul Matin Hassankhail, said the airstrike targeted a Taliban gathering in Kamalkhail village on the outskirts of Pul-e-Alam, the center of Logar, which killed 25 Taliban members including their key commanders and wounded 11 others.
On July 22, at least eight civilians were killed in an airstrike in Logar which was carried out by Afghan forces to target militants in Baraki Barak district.
Again only July 25, some residents and members of Logar Provincial Council claimed that one civilian was killed and five others were wounded in a night raid in the province on Saturday evening.
The residents said the operation was conducted in Babus village on the outskirts of Pul-e-Alam City, the provincial capital.
The residents said women and children are among the victims.
Government has not commented on the report but former President Hamid Karzai in a statement condemned civilian casualties in Logar and called for an end to airstrikes which according to him often claim civilians’ lives.
Footage on social media and from local reports show a destroyed house which residents claim has been targeted by the airstrike on Saturday evening.
Record Number of Casualties Since March 2019
On July 15, a senior official of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said that 596 civilians were killed and 1,892 others wounded in clashes between government forces and the Taliban and other attacks by militants in Afghanistan since the beginning of the current solar year which coincides with March 21, 2019.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a quarterly report on April 24 that it has documented high levels of harm to civilians but adds that there has been a 23 percent decrease in overall civilian casualties as compared to the same period last year and is the lowest for a first-quarter since 2013.
The report says the UN documented 1,773 civilian casualties (581 deaths and 1,192 injured), including 582 child casualties (150 deaths and 432 injured) between January 1 and March 31.
In the first quarter of 2018, UNAMA documented 2,305 civilian casualties (799 deaths and 1,506 injured), including 609 child casualties (176 deaths and 433 injured), the report says.
The overall reduction of civilian casualties was driven by a decrease in civilian casualties by suicide improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, the report says.
UNAMA notes the particularly harsh winter conditions during the first three months of the year, which may have contributed to this trend, the report says.
It is unclear whether the decrease in civilian casualties was influenced by any measures taken by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians, or by the ongoing talks between parties to the conflict, the report mentions.