The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Tuesday said its findings indicate that the Afghan security forces, while responding to an attack by the Taliban in Sangin district of Helmand, caused massive civilian casualties by firing artillery that hit a marketplace.
The commission said that at least 27 civilians--including children--were killed and 35 more were wounded after the security forces launched a counter-attack on the Taliban insurgents in Sangin.
“The incident happened as a result of the counter-attack by the Afghan military forces, the Afghan government needs to initiate a transparent investigation into the attack,” said Naeem Nazari, the deputy head of the AIHRC.
“They do not bear mercy on the children, on the women and on the people, what kind of government is this? I personally don’t know what kind of governance this is,” said lawmaker Hanif Hanafi.
“The Taliban blame the government, and the government blames the Taliban--everyday Afghans are killed and wounded,” said Rahmatullah Achakzai, a member of parliament.
At least 23 civilians were killed after four explosive projectiles hit a festival being held at a market in Sangin district in Helmand province on Monday morning, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, General Wali Ahmad Ahmadzai, the commander of 215 Maiwand Army Corps, has said that the army is ready to investigate the incident in Sangin in a thorough way.
“An investigation team has been tasked and we welcome it, we are ready to provide any sort of clarification on this issue, we strongly reject civilian casualties,” said Wali Ahmad Ahmadzai, the commander of 215 Maiwand Army Corps.
'24 Civilians Killed or Wounded Everyday'
This comes as Javid Faisal, the spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC), on Tuesday accused the Taliban of killing and wounding 24 civilians per day in Afghanistan since earlier in the year.
“On average, the Taliban has carried out 44 attacks and killed or wounded 24 civilians every day in Afghanistan since the Feb. 22 reduction in violence week,” Faisal said in a tweet.
The European Union in a statement has raised strong concerns over a dramatic surge in the civilian toll in Afghanistan.
The EU has also warned that attacks by the Taliban could harm prospects for the start of intra-Afghan talks.
In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says Afghan forces are responsible for the blasts.
“UNAMA’s initial impartial findings indicate Afghan National Army mortars inflicted heavy civilian casualties Monday at market in Sangin, Afghanistan. Multiple credible sources assert that the ANA fired lethal mortars in response to Taliban fire, missing intended target,” UNAMA tweeted.