Drone strikes allegedly kill 20 civilians in Paktika
SHARAN (Pajhwok): Public representatives and local residents on Thursday claimed 20 civilians including tribal elders had been killed in two drone strikes in southeastern Paktika province, but security officials said the slain individuals were militants.
The victims were traveling in a pickup vehicle to Kakarzao area from Banzo village in Gomal district to resolve a dispute there on Wednesday afternoon when came under attack from the drone, a resident of Banzo area, Mohammad Hanif, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said 15 people including tribal elders were killed and one more was injured in the incident. He said another drone strike took place the same day at around 5pm, killing five people on two motorcycles. He said the victims were civilians.
Civilians were killed in both the attacks, the provincial council’s deputy head, Naimatullah Babari, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He rejected if the slain persons had any links with the Taliban. He said the victims used to carry weapons for self-defence because they had disputes over mountains.
But provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Zarawar Zahid said the first drone strike killed nine Taliban fighters and the second another five militants.
Regarding the claim that the slain people were civilians, he said if they were tribal elders, they would have informed the government about their movement to other areas with weapons.
US troops in Afghanistan confirmed they conducted two counter-terrorism strikes in Paktika on Wednesday afternoon. "There is currently no evidence to indicate that civilians suffered causalities in the air raids."
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