UNAMA investigating allegations of 32 civilian deaths from air strikes in Kunduz
KABUL - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is currently investigating allegations that at least 32 civilians were killed and a further 19 injured in air strikes in Kunduz city last Thursday.
In the early hours of 3 November, a series of air strikes were carried out in Buz-e-Kandahari area of Kunduz city, following ground operations conducted by international and Afghan security forces there, in which pro-Government forces came under attack by Anti-Government Elements.
In a statement released Saturday, United States Forces-Afghanistan acknowledged they had conducted air-to-ground engagements at that time in that area, with the commander, General John W. Nicholson, expressing his deep regret for the loss of innocent lives.
Preliminary findings indicate that the aerial operation killed at least 32 civilians and injured an additional 19 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. UNAMA also received reports that the air strikes severely damaged at least 22 houses.
“The loss of civilian life is unacceptable and undermines efforts toward building peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “When conducting aerial operations, international military forces should take all feasible measures to minimize civilian harm, including full analysis of the context for aerial strikes.”
UNAMA urges authorities to ensure an independent, impartial and prompt investigation at the earliest opportunity, and for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure accountability, compensation for victims and the prevention of such incidents in the future.
This incident took place in the context of significant countrywide violence, with civilians bearing the brunt. In the past week, the Mission has documented 46 separate incidents of conflict-related violence, resulting in severe civilian harm, including deaths and injuries from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, aerial attacks from rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, targeted killings and explosive remnants of war. Between 30 October and 5 November, the mission documented a preliminary figure of 206 civilian casualties (95 civilian deaths and 111 injured).
In accordance with its mandate to support the protection of civilians in armed conflict, UNAMA will continue to investigate credible allegations of harm caused to civilians by all parties to the conflict. Fuller information on this and other serious incidents will be provided in the Mission’s 2016 Protection of Civilians Annual Report, slated for release in January 2017.
The UN Mission expresses its sincere condolences to the families of victims and a speedy recovery to those injured.