Angry crowds took to the streets of the Afghan city of Kunduz on Wednesday, protesting airstrikes by the government and the US-led military coalition. People carried bodies of civilians killed in a recent aerial attack.
Over the past five days, at least 24 civilians have perished across the county during several less-than-precise bombing runs.
“It was 11:30pm. Planes arrived, my kids rushed outside. The strike started and killed three people. It injured two others and destroyed my house,” Meraj Udding, whose family was decimated by the airstrike, said.
“I ran away. Nobody is left at home to prepare me a cup of tea.”
Udding’s family has lost three women and two men were injured in the bombing run.
“My wife, she was 50. One girl, she was 13 years old, beheaded. One was my daughter-in-law, who just got married,” the sobbing man said.
Repeated airstrikes on civilian targets constitute a complete failure by the authorities to actually govern the Kunduz province, said a member of the provincial council, Amruddin, who goes only by a single name like many Afghans.
“This shows the failure in management of the Kunduz government, they work to cheat us, these are their ‘achievements’. With all these resources you cannot differentiate between gunmen fighters and civilians?” Amruddin said.
“We don’t understand the politics when the government kills us. Why can’t the local government manage this issue?”
The surge in civilian victims of airstrikes in the country, locked in near perpetual war, has caught the attention of the UN. Its Afghanistan mission (UNAMA) cited “multiple, credible allegations” of an airstrike on September 22 in the province of Kapisa, which killed nine people from the same family, including four children.
While the mission noted that “it was not immediately clear whether the strike was carried out by international military forces or by the Afghan Air Force,” it urged all the parties potentially involved to conduct a proper investigation into the incident.
According to the UNAMA, 149 civilians were killed and 204 injured by aerial attacks over the first six months of this year, which constituted a 52-percent increase compared to the same period in 2017. “It is of particular concern that women and children made up more than half of all aerial attack civilian casualties,” the UNAMA stated.
Russia has voiced concern over the rise in casualties, arguing that the “erroneous strikes” that claim civilian lives have almost become mundane. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US should bear responsibility for the current dismal situation in the war-ravaged country, calling it “a result of gross mistakes by the US in Afghanistan” and Washington’s determination to solve the problems plaguing the country “by force.” It called on the US to reconsider its approach and focus its efforts on kick-starting dialogue between the warring parties.
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