The Afghan government on Friday said that the Taliban used civilians as human shields during Wednesday night’s military operation in Kunduz which resulted in the death of at least 30 civilians.
CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Friday urged the Afghan security forces to do whatever they can to prevent civilian deaths in ongoing battles. He also slammed the use of civilians as human shields by the Taliban and said it was a cowardly act.
“Taliban leaders were there, unfortunately they used people as human shields – as a result innocent civilians and children were martyred and I convey my condolences to the bereaved families,” said Abdullah.
Meanwhile, U.S Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also condemned the incident that led to the loss of civilian lives during the Kunduz operation, but reiterated that Washington was committed to its plan to complete its mission in Afghanistan.
Ash Carter said he was “deeply saddened” to learn that two U.S. service members had been killed and four injured in Afghanistan.
“Our service members were doing their part to help the Afghans secure their own country while protecting our homeland from those who would do us harm,” he said in a statement.
Reports indicate that at least 30 civilians were killed during an armed confrontation between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban in Boz Kandahari area of Kunduz, close to Pul-e-Alchin – which is a suburb of the provincial capital.
Most of the victims killed in the operation were women and children.
“The number of those wounded is around 25 people while another 30 people were killed,” said Assadullah Omarkhial, the governor of Kunduz.
Meanwhile, a source close to the Afghan special forces has said that the Afghan special commandos raided the area with the support of their foreign counterparts. Their plan was to eliminate two top Taliban commanders who had taken shelter inside civilian homes alongside their fighters and were targeting Afghan security forces.
The source added that at least 10 Afghan commandos killed or wounded including a number of US soldiers.
“Insurgents attacked our forces from four directions and forces had to retaliate,” said Mohammad Radmanish, a deputy spokesman for the ministry of defense.
It is believed that the Taliban also suffered heavy casualties during the operation. Reports indicate at least 64 Taliban fighters including two top commanders were eliminated during the operation.
The presidential palace on Thursday night also confirmed in a statement that during a military operation on Wednesday night insurgents infiltrated residential areas and used people as human shields in the Boz Kandahari area of Kunduz leaving a number of women and children dead and wounded.
“President Ghani was shocked after hearing the news of the civilian death toll and directed the security and defense officials and Kunduz governor to take all necessary steps during operations to prevent civilian casualties,” the statement read.
The statement noted that Ghani has assigned a task team to probe the incident in order to implement the law against those who committed this inhumane act.
“Whenever the Taliban face a siege, they use the people as human shields, they enter people’s homes by force and take women and children hostage,” said senator Ali Akbar Jamshidi.