TALIBAN THREATENS “SERIOUS REVENGE” OVER AFGHAN AIRSTRIKE




Hatim Khan – 06.04.2018- In a statement issued by the Taliban last Wednesday, they have sworn to take revenge from the Afghani administration over their airstrike on Monday that left over 50 dead and around 150 injured including children. The exact number of casualties however is still not verifiable as different sources are reporting the numbers very differently. For instance, Abdullah Qarloq, a senator from Dasht-e Archi district said, “What I know and have heard is that 200 people have been killed and wounded, both civilians who were studying there and armed Taliban”.

The statement said that it "condemns in the strongest terms this major crime and vows to take serious revenge against the perpetrators".

Contrary to the early information circulating early on Monday, it was not an airstrike carried out by the United States but it was rather carried out by the Afghani military. This was shown through the statements of both the Afghani and the US military spokesperson.

Initially, the Afghani government and military had both maintained that the airstrike in the Kunduz province only targeted Taliban fighters but later changed their statements and accepted that many civilian casualties have occurred after pictures of dead and injured children started circulating the internet. In the most recent statement, the administration says that only over 30 of the people killed in the airstrike were fighters belonging to Taliban.

The airstrike took place over a religious school graduation ceremony of children which was also attended by Taliban fighters. A doctor treating the wounded, who refused to disclose his name, also reiterated that majority of the victims of the airstrike were civilians.

Citizens and human rights groups have both shown their anger regarding such indiscriminate attack. A witness speaking to Al Jazeera said "There were children as young as 11 or 12 years old in the ceremony who were to be presented with awards and gifts for the completion of their religious courses” and "Mothers are wailing and crying outside the hospitals for the death of their children and everyone is crying with them”.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan tweeted during the aftermath of the airstrike saying it was, "actively looking in to disturbing reports of serious harm to civilians yesterday” and that “All parties should be reminded of obligations to protect civilians from impact of armed conflict”.