Civilian casualties claimed in Ghazni offensive
GHAZNI CITY (Pajhwok): The deputy provincial council chief and tribal elders from Andar district of southern Ghazni province on Saturday accused a military commander of his involvement in killing civilians.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) has launched an operation in Andar and Deh Yak districts, with local officials saying so far 60 militants have been killed in the offensive codenamed “Nusrat.”
But residents of the two districts claim most of those killed and wounded were civilians.
Dozens of elders from Andar district on Saturday arrived in Ghazni City and lodged their complaint with the Governor’s House, claiming civilian casualties in the military operation.
Abdul Jami, the provincial council deputy head, accused the ANA’s 203rd Thunder Military Corps’ third battalion commander, Ghulam Haider Nekpai, of killing civilians on ethnic lines.
“Once Russians conducted an operation similar to today’s one by the ANA personnel,” he said.
He said foreign troops had not committed atrocities over the past 13 years to the level being committed under Nekpai command.
He urged the provincial administration to stop the operation and bring the ANA commander to justice. Jami warned he would not go back to work until the ANA commander was replaced.
A tribal elder from Andar, Haji Noorullah, said ANA forces intimidated local residents and killed them on charges of connections with the Taliban.
He claimed so far 40 civilians had been killed and 30 others wounded in the ANA operation. The elder warned of waging an uprising against the government if the operation was not immediately wound up.
Another elder, Haji Adul Ahad, said the ANA commander was provoking the troops to kill members of other tribes.
Acting Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada said the issue would be investigated to ascertain the real problem.
He said he had himself travelled to the Deh Yak district and talked to local residents. “Everyone knows wars create problems and people suffer and we will direct the military forces to pay serious attention to people’s problems.”
But commander Nekpai rejected the allegations against him in a brief chat with Pajhwok Afghan News. “We don’t conduct operations in areas where civilians could suffer casualties.”
He also rejected he was biased toward a particular tribe, saying Jami’s allegation was baseless and untrue.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.