40 attending wedding killed during Afghan forces’ raid

Kabul, September 23

At least 40 civilians at a wedding party were killed during a raid conducted by Afghan special forces and supported by US airstrikes on Taliban hideouts in the southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said.

The violence has further rattled Afghanistan which is facing an upsurge in violence after US-Taliban peace talks to end America’s longest war collapsed earlier this month.

Abdul Majed Akhund, deputy provincial councilman, said the majority of the dead were women and children who were at a wedding ceremony that was taking place in Musa Qala district on Sunday night.

Akhund said 12 other civilians were wounded and were in a hospital in Lashkar Gah, capital of the province.

There were conflicting reports on the number of killed and wounded from different sources as the area is under Taliban control.

Attahullah Afghan, head of the provincial council, said there were two separate raids in different areas of Musa Qala. The first operation killed six foreign fighters, while the second raid “mistakenly” hit civilians, he said.

Afghanistan’s defence ministry in a statement said as a result of the operations in Musa Qala district, 22 foreign members of the Taliban were killed and 14 arrested. The arrested terrorists include five Pakistani nationals and one Bangladeshi.

“The foreign terrorist group was actively engaged in organising terrorist attacks,” the statement said and added that a large warehouse of the terrorists’ supplies and equipment was also destroyed.

Omar Zwak, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said 14 insurgents, including six foreigners, were killed during the raid. They were investigating reports of civilian casualties. — AP