The FINANCIAL — Afghan officials say they have launched an investigation into claims that at least 14 civilians were killed in a military ground operation in eastern Afghanistan.
Protesters temporarily blocked a major highway linking Afghanistan and Pakistan on October 24 to demand action against those responsible for the overnight raid by Afghan security forces in Nangarhar Province’s Rodat district, according to RFE/RL.
Local residents and families of the victims laid the bodies of the deceased next to the highway connecting Nangarhar Province’s capital, Jalalabad, with Torkham, one of the major border crossings into Pakistan, and closed it to traffic.
Both the Taliban and Islamic State militants are active in Nangarhar.
Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, confirmed there had been casualties in the military operation and said an official investigation was under way.
A local elder, Najibullah Amarkhil, put the death toll at 16, including women and children.
“Government forces raided several houses. They killed 14 people, including a 6-month-old baby,” Amarkhil told the AFP news agency, adding two more died from their wounds in hospital.
“We demand the government punish those responsible,” he added.
TOLOnews reported that the death toll was “at least 17.”
Civilians have borne the brunt of the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan. A total of 8,050 civilians were killed or wounded across the country in the first nine months of the year, according to a recent UN report.