Afghan civilians die as American negotiators seek ‘leverage’ in peace talks

 

The New York Times reports that ten civilians were killed and several others were wounded over the weekend (February 10-11) during American airstrikes in southern Afghanistan.

Two residents of the Sangin district of Helmand said eight members of a single family were killed by airstrikes in one house and two more in a nearby structure, among them women and children.

Another local resident, Aslam Khan, said the home of his brother, Assti Khan, in the Sangin district, was fired upon by a helicopter when he switched on a flashlight to find his shoes. The shots killed Assti Khan’s 10-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter and wounded his wife and 18-year-old daughter, his brother said in a telephone interview.

A Sangin resident, Haji Mohammad Dawoud, said Taliban fighters had fired from a building next to the home of a local man, Nader Shah, whose eight family members were said to have died.

Mohammad Hasim Alokozai, a member of Parliament from Helmand, put the death toll higher, saying in an interview that 14 civilians were killed and six wounded in the two houses.

An American military spokeswoman in Kabul, Sgt. Debra Richardson, said that American aircraft had conducted airstrikes in the province late Friday night and early Saturday morning, but that she could not confirm or deny that civilians had been killed.

Two airstrikes killed 29 people in January, most of them women and children, in southern Helmand Province. Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Mujib Mashal report that in recent months, more civilians have been in harm’s way as the American military has ramped up attacks against Taliban insurgents, part of an effort to give American negotiators leverage in peace talks with the Taliban.

 

 

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