BFF-56 Afghanistan probes claims at least 14 civilians killed in raid on Islamic State

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AFGHANISTAN-UNREST

Afghanistan probes claims at least 14 civilians killed in raid on Islamic
State

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Oct 24, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Afghan officials launched
an investigation Wednesday into claims at least 14 civilians were killed in a
military ground operation targeting the Islamic State group in their
stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

Following Tuesday night’s raid by Afghan special forces in Rodat district
of Nangarhar province, scores of protesters temporarily blocked a major
highway linking Afghanistan and Pakistan to demand action against those
responsible for the attack.

Sultan Mohammad, who was among the protesters, told AFP 14 people were
killed in the operation and four others were wounded.

Local elder Najibullah Amarkhil put the death toll slightly higher at 16,
including women and children.

“Government forces raided several houses — they killed 14 people,
including a six-month-old baby,” Amarkhil told AFP, adding two more died from
their wounds in hospital.

“We demand the government punish those responsible.”

Afghan broadcaster Tolo News said the death toll was “at least 17”.

Images posted on Tolo’s Twitter account purportedly showed dozens of men
crowded around the bodies of victims under a tent next to the highway
connecting the Nangarhar provincial capital of Jalalabad with Torkham, one of
the major border crossings into Pakistan.

Provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani confirmed there had been
casualties in the operation and said an official probe was under way.

“A delegation has been sent to the area to investigate the incident and
report back to us,” Khogyani told AFP.

Ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt of the 17-year war, which is on
track to be deadlier than Syria in 2018.

Civilians continue to face “extreme levels of harm”, a recent UN report
said, with 8,050 people killed or wounded in the January to September period.

Violence has intensified in the past year as US and Afghan forces step up
ground and air offensives against Taliban and IS insurgents.

IS, a smaller but potent rival of the Taliban, emerged in the region in
2014 and quickly established a heavy presence in Afghanistan’s east before
expanding north.

BSS/AFP/FI/ 2322 hrs